Veterans Day began as a commemoration of World War I, that 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when the guns were silenced and the armistice was called and peace came at last. After four long years of fighting in the “war to end all wars,” the dead numbered an estimated 9 million troops. Nearly 120,000 were Americans.
Nov. 11 was originally Armistice Day in the United States, though it wasn’t ratified by Congress until 1938. By the mid-1950s veterans groups urged Congress to change the day to honor Americans who had served in all wars, removing the distinctive honor for those who served in World War I.