Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, Armistice Day: The Differences
Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, and Armistice Day are all celebrated on November 11th, but what are the differences between what the day is called?
They all have the commonality of remembering the sacrifices of both soldiers and civilians during war time, but there are some subtle differences between the days and what they mean.
Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifices of those made during wartime, but it does specifically point to the First World War as November 11th 1918 was the end of WWI. King George V designated that November 11th would be Remembrance Day in 1919, and the day has ben observed every day since.
Remembrance Day is referred to this way in the Commonwealth Nations, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and South Africa. Some nations make November 11th a holiday, but not all do.
Poppies are also a symbol of Remembrance Day as it was one of the only flowers that would grow on the disturbed and wrecked soil of the battlefields of World War One; it was immortalized in the poem In Flanders Fields by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.
In the United States, November 11th is referred to as Veterans Day and is both a federal and state holiday.
It was President Woodrow Wilson who declared November 11th Armistice Day in 1919, which refers to the signing of the armistice between the Allies and the Germans in World War I. In 1938, the 11th of November became a legal holiday in the United States, but it was in 1953 that Al King, a Kansas shoe owner had the idea to expand Armistice Day to remembering all veterans, not just those that died in WWI and to call it 'All' Veterans Day.
President Dwight Eisenhower signed it in to law on May 26, 1954 and then on November 8th that year, congress changed the word 'Armistice' to 'Veterans' and it has been known as Veterans Day ever since. For a while it was moved to the fourth Monday in October, but now it is back to being observed on November 11th every year.
This is not to be confused with Veterans' Day in the United Kingdom, which is celebrated on 27 June and is to commemorate the British men and women who fought and are still fighting in wars. It is not a public holiday in the UK however.
Although not as common anymore, November 11th can still be referred to as Armistice Day and the name comes from the armistice that was signed between the Allied Forces of WWI and Germany to cease all fighting on the Western Front. This signing took place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Hostilities did continue on other fronts after this was signed however.
In Italy the end of the war is commemorated on November 4th as that is the day of the Armistice of Villa Giusti, and in Poland this day is considered Polish Independence Day, and it has since been changed to Veterans Day and Remembrance Day in other parts of the world after World War II.