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Remembering Veterans

Veterans Day 010

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations . . . " 

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.U. S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

The Libraries at the National Museum of American History would like to share a small selection of books from our collection on veterans of the many conflicts and wars that were a major part of the history of the United States. Along with the books are samples of that history from the Museum’s Military History & Diplomacy curatorial division, including two medals, the Congressional Medal of Honor 1904 patten, the nations’ highest award for heroic service, “above and beyond the call of duty,” and the Purple Heart, awarded for wounds received in combat.   Also included is a Blue Star Man-in-Service Flag from World War II. The flag indicated a family member was on active duty. Our thanks to Military History & Diplomacy staff members Jennifer L. Jones (chair and curator) and Kathleen Golden (associate curator) for their generous cooperation.—Chris Cottrill, photos by Lu Rossignol

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