5 THINGS TO KNOW: What is the significance of Veterans Day and how did it start?

Nov. 11—The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs details Veterans Day, which is Saturday.

1What is Veterans Day?

Legislation approved June 1, 1954, made Nov. 11 a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day proclamation "to ensure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose."

2How did Veterans Day originate?

World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919 — but fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of "the war to end all wars."

Then-President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919, as the first commemoration of Armistice Day for Americans to "be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory."

3When did it become a federal holiday?

An act was approved May 13, 1938, to make Nov. 11 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, primarily to honor World War I veterans.

4 When did the name change?

After World War II required the greatest American military mobilization and U.S. forces fought aggression in Korea, veterans urged the 83rd Congress to amend the act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

5 How is Veterans Day recognized?

A Veterans Day national ceremony is held each year at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremony includes the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States armed forces.

—Derrick James