This year, Veterans Day takes on particular historic significance: Nov. 11, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. Countries around the world will commemorate the signing of this peace agreement with moments of silence, centennial ceremonies, and historical exhibits.
Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day is a celebration of life. It’s a day to honor the power of peace and the living veterans across the globe who have served their countries. This November, take a moment to remember the war that helped shape the international community’s dedication to peace and thank the individuals who served to defend it.
By 1914, a world war had been years in the making, but the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by a Serbian nationalist provided the spark that would eventually burn down much of Europe. A chain reaction of land disputes, pre-emptive attacks, and strategic alliances brought over 30 countries into World War I.
The Great War that ravaged Europe resulted in a devastating loss of life, but from those ashes rose a renewed appreciation for the importance of peace and a global effort to ensure its place in the future.
In 1918, Germany surrendered unconditionally, and the armistice ended the fighting at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, though the war did not officially end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles the following July. An estimated 16 million soldiers and civilians died in just four years, making it one of the deadliest conflicts in modern history.
Originally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day was first observed on Nov. 11, 1919, to honor the one-year anniversary of the armistice, and it became a U.S. holiday in 1938. Today, Veterans Day celebrates veterans who served their country honorably. The U.K., France, Australia, and Canada also commemorate their veterans in November. If you know a veteran, thank them for their service this month.
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