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Extra!: Veterans Day

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(CNN Student News) -- On November 11, Americans pay tribute to everyone who has served in the U.S. military. But why was this particular date chosen, and how does this holiday differ from Memorial Day?

Origins of Veterans Day

World War I, also known as "The Great War," was fought from 1914 to 1918. During this conflict, Great Britain, France, Russia, Belgium, Italy, Japan, the United States and other countries, which formed the "Allies," defeated the so-called "Central Powers," which included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. On the "eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month" of 1918, German leaders signed an armistice, or a temporary ending to hostilities, with the Allied powers. On that date, November 11, celebrations were held in New York City, Paris, London and in other cities around the globe. The following year, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 as "Armistice Day," a day to observe the ending of World War I.

On June 4, 1926, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution asking President Calvin Coolidge to call upon officials to "display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples." Twelve years later, on May 13, 1938, Congress passed an Act making the 11th of November Armistice Day, a federal holiday.

Initially, Armistice Day was to be a day to honor veterans of World War I. But following the tremendous calls to arms and human sacrifice during World War II and the Korean conflict, veterans groups urged Congress to consider a day to celebrate U.S. veterans of all wars. On June 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day

Veterans Day in the United States is a day to honor all Americans who have served in the U.S. military, both during wartime and in peacetime. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring Americans who have died serving the nation, especially those who died in battle or from wounds received during armed conflicts. On Veterans Day, Americans thank the living veterans for their service to the country and recognize that all who have served the country, not just those who have died, have made sacrifices and done their duty.

President George W. Bush 2006 Veterans Day Proclamation

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2006, as Veterans Day and urge all Americans to observe November 5 through November 11, 2006, as National Veterans Awareness Week. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through ceremonies and prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to support and participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I invite civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, businesses, unions, and the media to support this national observance with commemorative expressions and programs.


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