On November 11, 2003, the United States once again pays tribute to all Americans who have served our nation in military uniform. Celebrated with flags, parades, and ceremonies, this tradition dates back to the end of the First World War. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, Germany signed an Armistice with Great Britain, France, and the United States, ending World War I. During that war some 49,000 American troops had died in combat, another 230,000 were wounded, and 63,000 succumbed to influenza and other diseases while in service. Thereafter, the United States designated November 11 as Armistice Day to commemorate both those who had returned from the war, and those who had sacrificed their lives.
While Americans had hoped that the “Great War”—as it was called—would be the “war to end all wars,” within a generation an even more devastating Second World War had followed. Over 405,000 American lost their lives in World War II, and many thousands more were wounded. Since then, American soldiers, sailors, and marines have been called up to fight in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq, and in other conflicts around the globe.
In 1954, the nation renamed Armistice Day as Veterans Day, to honor all American military veterans. In further recognition, in 2000, the Senate and House unanimously voted to establish the Veterans History Project. The project is intended to honor our nation’s veterans by creating a lasting legacy of recorded interviews and other documents chronicling their wartime experiences, and the effect of those experiences on American life. Believing that today’s generation and future Americans have much to learn from these veterans, this worthy project encourages Americans of all ages, but especially young people, to participate by interviewing veterans, transcribing their recordings, and donating what they have collected to the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress at www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/.
Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs