The armistice (cessation of hostilities) between the Allies and Germany in WWI (then 'The Great War') took place on November 11, 1918 - at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Since that time, beginning with the declaration by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) has been celebrated each November 11th beginning at 11am. The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 am.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a Concurrent Resolution on June 4, 1926, and Armistice Day was created as a legal holiday by an Act of Congress on May 13, 1938. On June 1st, 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Public Law 380 renaming the day Veterans Day, a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs points out that many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty.
As Catholic American Citizens and Knights of Columbus, we should seek prayers of thanksgiving for our Veterans - and attendance at Mass is a particularly great way to honor those who have served. Prayers of healing for those who have suffered service-related injuries - whether visible, catastrophic, or invisible, is a particular charism of the Knights of Columbus' 4th Degree - especially through our Warriors to Lourdes Program. Be sure to take time out of your day - particularly at 11am - to remember those who have fought and to thank those who have served our nation in uniform and who now live with us as fellow civilians and citizens.