U.S. Military History

Veterans Day

Ross Dunfee

The bloodiest conflict so far in history, five years from June 28, 1914, to June 28, 1919, was finally over. Suffering, misery, and carnage caused by The Great War, (World War I), would cease. World War I claimed between 15 and 22 million lives from more than two dozen countries, including 117,466 U.S. and 66,996 Canadian soldiers. Canada (part of Great Britain at the time) entered the war in August 1914 and the U.S. entered the war in August 1917. Even though cessation of hostilities (armistice) took place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the fighting did not officially cease until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.

Delegates from the Allied and German forces began meeting at a railroad siding in the Forest of Compiegne (northern France) on the morning of Nov. 8, 1918, and negotiations concluded November 11. The Allied forces were not willing to negotiate and the Germans bore a heavy toll and harsh terms. The Germans conceded military weaponry, territory, and $37 billion in 1919 (equivalent to $576 billion in 2020) for reparations. WWI did not officially conclude, it ended with an armistice; an agreement where both sides agreed to stop fighting rather than surrender. The armistice was signed by both sides.

Many countries established holidays in remembrance of the sacrifices made during the bloody battle. For the United States, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in 1919, known as Remembrance Day in many nations (including Canada). Armistice Day in the U.S. became a permanent national observance in 1926 and a national holiday in 1939. It remained a national holiday until its name was changed to
Veterans Day in 1954.

The League of Nations (later the United Nations), established with the Treaty of Versailles, was first assembled in 1920. Its purpose was to avoid a repetition of the Great War, but frustrations with the Treaty of Versailles, failure to appease hostilities by the League of Nations, worldwide economic depression, and the rise of militarism by Germany and Japan led to the next Great War, World War II. The deadliest military conflict in history claimed 70 to 85 million military soldiers and civilian lives from more than five dozen countries.

WWII lasted six years from Sept. 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, until Sept. 2, 1945, when Japan surrendered aboard the USS Missouri. During the war, the U.S. military fatalities reached 407,300 and Canada 42,000. To honor veterans (active, living, and deceased) of all wars, a bill was presented to the U.S. Congress in 1953 and signed into law by President Eisenhower on May 26, 1954. The law officially changed the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Support Our Troops—Arizona (SOT-AZ), centered at Robson Ranch, honors our active, living and deceased veterans by displaying almost 300 U.S. flags along the arterial and collector roadways in the Robson Ranch community and we encourage our neighbors to additionally display their flags. We are the home of the free because of the brave “American that gave it all”.

For questions about the article contact Ross Dunfee at [email protected]. To learn more about Support Our Troops – Arizona, contact the SOT-AZ President, Stephen Reeves, at [email protected].