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I have always regarded the forward edge of battle as the most exclusive club in the world.

-- Sir Brian Harrock

Veterans Day

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Origins

In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe).

11/11/11

These memorial services all took place on November 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I at 11:00 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month), which became known as Armistice Day.

Armistice Day Becomes Veterans Day

Armistice Day officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday 12 years later. On June 1, 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.

In 1968, new legislation changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.

Tomb of the Unknowns

Official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day center around the Tomb of the Unknowns.

To honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars, an Army honor guard, the 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), keeps day and night vigil.

At 11 a.m. on November 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes "Present Arms" at the tomb. The nation's tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath and the playing of "Taps."

Unknown Soldier Identified

On Memorial Day (which honors U.S. service people who died in action) in 1958, two more unidentified American war dead, one from World War II and the other from the Korean War, were buried next the unknown soldier of World War I.

A law was passed in 1973 providing interment of an unknown American from the Vietnam War, but because of the improved technology to identify the dead, it was not until 1984 that an unidentified soldier was buried in the tomb.

In 1998, however, the Vietnam soldier was identified through DNA tests as Michael Blassie, a 24-year-old Air Force pilot who was shot down in May of 1972 near the Cambodian border. His body was disinterred and reburied by his family in St. Louis, Missouri.
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This Day in History
1863: Confederates under General James Longstreet fail to defeat a Union force under General Ambrose Burnside near Knoxville, Tennessee.

1940: Great Britain launched its first of many air raids on Hamburg, Germany. The attack was ordered in reaction to Germanys leveling of Coventry just two days before. By the end of the war, the total death toll from British air attacks on Hamburg neared 50,000.