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Why is Veterans Day Always Observed on November Eleventh?

Updated on December 1, 2010

A Holiday Celebrating the End of a War

While Veterans Day can fall on any day of the week the date the holiday is observed is always November 11th.

The date of November eleventh is significant because the Veterans day holiday was originally celebrated to commemorate an event that took place on November eleventh and that was the World War I armistice or cease fire that occurred on that date.

After four years of war in which millions of soldiers and civilians were killed the two sides agreed to stop all combat at eleven o’clock on November 11, 1918. The idea was that each side would hold their positions and allow their diplomats to attempt to negotiate a peace treaty to end the war.

Canadian War Monument in Niagara Falls honoring Canadian troops Who Gave their Lives in World War I and World War II
Canadian War Monument in Niagara Falls honoring Canadian troops Who Gave their Lives in World War I and World War II | Source

Remembering A Cease Fire Agreement That Stopped the Killing

At the time this was only a cease fire. Many expected the peace talks to fail and the war to resume.

However, the armistice did last and a few months later, on June 28, 1919, diplomats from the nations involved in the war signed the Treaty of Versailles which officially brought the war to an end.

For a war weary world it was the end of the fighting and death that the people remembered rather than the end result of diplomatic haggling.

So, in the years following, people in the nations that had engaged in World War I began to observe November 11th as a day to pause and remember those who had given their lives fighting in that war.

Armistice Day Becomes Veterans Day

In the years immediately following the end of World War I, November 11th came to be observed as an official holiday honoring those who gave their lives in World War I.

In the United States it was known as Armistice Day , while in the United Kingdom and many British Commonwealth nations it came to be called Remembrance Day. Other nations have different names for this day.

Following World War II, another horrific war on a global scale, many in the United States sought to honor those who gave their lives in that war by including them in the Armistice Day observance.

As a result of this the name changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day . At the same time the May 30th holiday, originally known as Decoration Day which honored those who had died in America’s Civil War, evolved into Memorial Day on which we honored the memory of those who had given their lives fighting in all of the nation’s wars.

Veterans Day Becomes a Floating Holiday

By the 1960s there were thousands of living veterans of World Wars One and Two and the Korean War as well as a rapidly dwindling number of still living veterans of the Civil War and Spanish American War (and we were soon to get Veterans of the Vietnam War that was just starting).  

With Memorial Day now honoring all those who had sacrificed their lives in the defense of the United States, the focus of Veterans Day shifted to honor all veterans, living and dead, who had fought to defend the nation.

In 1968, bowing to the demands for more three day weekends, the U.S. Congress changed the dates of many official holidays, including Veterans Day, to the Monday nearest the traditional date of the holiday.  
This was good in many ways and for most of the holidays - Columbus Day, Memorial Day, Presidents Day (Washington & Lincoln’s birthdays combined), etc. moving them from a fixed to a floating holiday didn’t make any difference.

Veterans Day Returns to November 11th

However, in the case of Veterans Day the exact date was important. Important first to the many World War I veterans and their families who were still living at that time.

Second, and in many ways more important, was that not only did the cease fire take place on November Eleventh but the fighting officially stopped at 11 A.M. (European time) on that day which also happened to occur in November which is the eleventh month of the year.

For many, it was still important to remember that the day originally commemorated the end of the fighting in World War I which took place at the Eleventh Hour, of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month in 1918.


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    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      5 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      DIYmommy - I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub. And, thanks to your husband for his service.

    • DIYmommy profile image


      5 years ago

      My husband is an Army veteran, having just recently returned from Kuwait, as well as, a tour to Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. I found this hub interesting. I always wondered why Veteran's Day was always observed on November 11th.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      good stuff chuck

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      An interesting read. Thanks for posting.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Well I personally love November the 11th because it is also my Birthday.

    • TrainingMan profile image


      7 years ago from Rochester, NY

      Nice hub Chuck and thanks to all the vets for their service to our country.

    • biasharamotomoto profile image


      7 years ago

      great hub. great piece of war history

    • schoolmarm profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      This is a really interesting hub. I wan't even aware of the reason for the changes. I think it is great that it is on the 11th and that honoring our soldiers beat out the "importance" of a 3 day weekend. Thank you for providing all of this information.

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 

      7 years ago from Houston, TX

      A great hub with informative information. I salute our soldiers and their bravery.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      KT Banks - thanks for visiting and for your comment.

      One of my sons was also born on September 11th and I remember going to a pizza parlor at lunch time on that day to buy a pizza I had promised to take to my son (who was in 5th grade at the time) to share with his friends at lunch for his birthday (this had been planned and promised days before the attack). The young lady at the cash register in the pizza shop was somewhat distraught and told me that she had just moved to Tucson from New York City and still had most of her family and friends in NYC.

      That reminded me that I had a couple of cousins whom I hadn't seen in years who lived in NYC which resulted in my calling their sister in Connecticut (it was difficult to call NYC that day) when I got home.

      It turned out that one cousin's office had moved across the river to New Jersey a few years earlier so he was safe. The other, Tom, worked in the World Trade Center complex but not in one of the two buildings hit.

      My cousin in Connecticut told me that my other cousin was safe but she had learned this in a round-about way. Her daughter in Colorado had reached her cousin, Tom's son, in upstate New York where he was in college via email and learned that he had managed to reach his mother by phone who said that Tom was safe but that it had taken him most of the day to make his way out of Manhattan, due to the traffic jams and chaos, and home to Brooklyn. My cousin's daughter then had to email the information to her mother because phone traffic to the east coast during the day was so heavy.

      So yes, 9/11 is a day that I also have some personal memories of.

      Thanks again for your comment

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Our cub scout den had a Vietnam Veteran come and give a presentation on the day before Veterans' Day this year. The boys (2nd graders) were enthralled.

      I'm glad that there is a fixed date for Veterans Day. Nov. 11 is a memorable date. Just think - next year it should be a very big celebration 11-11-11

    • KT Banks profile image

      KT Banks 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for letting us know all of that. I was born on 9-11 and my husband on 1-11, it's kind of made me sad since 2001.

    • Jeff May profile image

      Jeffrey Penn May 

      7 years ago from St. Louis

      Interesting hub. Easy to confuse Veteran's and Memorial Days, but this sheds light on their historical significance.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      adair_francesca - the eleven o'clock was probably coincidence as they needed time to get the word to the troops on both sides to stop shooting.

      The Allies had published terms that they would accept for ending the war and the political situation in Germany was crumbling. The Kaiser abdicated his throne a few days earlier and the German army command had been discussing a cease fire with their counterparts on the Allied side.

      An agreement was finally reached at 5 a.m. on November 11th to halt fighting. To work such a deal had to take place simultaneously on both sides otherwise there was the danger that one side would stop shooting while the other side took advantage of this and managed to push the side that had stopped shooting back thereby gaining additional ground.

      This would give the side that kept fighting for another hour or so an advantage in that they would control more territory to start with if the peace talks failed and the war re-started. If the peace talks succeeded they would be in control of more land (one of the objects of the war)which they could try to claim as the new, post-war borders.

      Since they didn't have radios in those days, communication along the lines was by telephone where lines had been installed and still working and by runners who ran or rode bicycles between field positions with messages. Many of these were in the line of enemy fire and lost their lives in the war.

      So, it was decided that six hours were needed to get the word out to everyone. The idea of 11-11-11 may have played a role in the decision but, more than likely it was just a coincidence with the decision based upon the time needed to get the word out. Unfortunately, a number of men on both sides died between the time the decision was made and the agreed upon dead line reached.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a very good hub. After reading this, I never thought that they also recorded the time when they stopped fighting. Is it a just a coincidence that the stopped at 11 o'clock? and at the same time the date is November 11?

      This like what happen this year when we had a date of October 10, 2010 means 10/10/10. Really interesting.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is really nice post. Remembering all those and 11.11.11. Interesting.

    • onceuponatime66 profile image

      Jackie Paulson 

      7 years ago from USA IL

      I do like that as well, 11 11 11 hum... I appreciate all our troops now and in the past. Praise you!

    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 

      7 years ago from West Kootenays

      Very interesting Hub, Chuck. The numbers are interesting to: 11, 11, 11. I like how this was expanded to include all veterans. Would that we lived in world where killing was unacceptable & negotiation key--but greed, power & prejudice are powerful forces.


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