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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
1846: Battle of San Pasqual.

1861: Union General George G. Meade led a foraging expedition to Gunnellís farm near Dranesville, Va.

1864: Monitors U.S.S. Saugus, Onondaga, Mahopac, and Canonicus participated in a lively engagement with strong shore batteries at Howlett's, James River, Virginia. Saugus received a solid 7-inch shot which disabled her turret.

1864: U.S.S. Neosho, Acting Lieutenant Howard, with Lieutenant Commander Fitch embarked, with the three small steamers U.S.S. Fairplay, Silver Lake, and Moose and several army transports in company, moved down the Cumberland River from Nashville and engaged Confederate batteries near Bell's Mills, Tennessee.

1917: German submarine torpedoes sink the USS Jacob Jones (DD-61) off England.

1928: A small detail of Marines under Captain Maurice G. Holmes defeated Nicaraguan bandits near Chuyelite.

1941: Japanese forces leave Palau bound for the attack on the Philippines.

1942: Allied forces near Medjez el Bab, Tunisia are pushed back by renewed German attacks.

1942: In New Guinea, US forces managed to reach the beach on the east side of Buna after heavy fighting. The Australian attack at Gona has little success. Japanese reinforcement fighting along the coast from the west make some headway.

1943: The US 5th Army offensive continues. The British 10th Corps captures Monte Camino while the US 2nd Corps attacks Monte la Difensa. To the east, the British 8th Army approaches the Moro River.