Many younger residents will probably be wondering about St. Louis’s Veterans Day scheduling. Except for Thanksgiving—the ever-Thursday celebration—most national observances are arranged to sidle up to or include a weekend, one way or another, making the most of any time off. But 2020’s Veterans Day is on Wednesday, period. Why?
The answer is straightforward. True, in some communities, Veterans Day observances (parades, in particular) may be scheduled for surrounding days—but the central event, the national ceremony in Washington DC, is always observed on November 11 (there are more “11’s” involved, too). Here’s why (the story is kind of neat).
World War I was a particularly horrendous affair—especially when compared with previous conflicts. Among other horrors was the debut of chemical warfare, which was later banned by all nations. More than four million U.S. soldiers fought in Europe, eventually tipping the scale in the Allies’ favor, bringing the fighting to an end in 1918. An “armistice” is a truce: an agreement by opposing sides to stop fighting (for a while, at least). In 1918, WWI’s armistice was signed between Germany and the Allies. The cessation became permanent seven months later, to the relief of a weary world.
The next year, “Armistice Day” was created in America as a day to remember all those who served in that war. After the next—even more deadly—World War, the holiday was renamed “Veterans Day” to honor all veterans of all eras. But the day’s date was retained: 11/11.
The reason? It was on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, at the eleventh hour in 1918 that the fighting in World War I was stilled. To this day, the remembrance of that moment is, as then-President Wilson proclaimed, one “…filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service…”
If you check out Wednesday’s ceremonies being held in the nation’s capital, you’ll find the Veterans Day centerpiece—the “Wreath-Laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”—at the top of the list (in fact, it will be live-streamed). You can guess the hour at which the ceremony will begin: 11:00 am.