From Armistice Day to Veterans Day

American soldiers being honored in Steubenville, Ohio, 1937. Via the Ohio Guide Collection.
American soldiers being honored in Steubenville, Ohio, 1937. Via Ohio Memory.
Armistice Day in Columbus, 1919. Via Ohio Memory.
Armistice Day in Columbus, 1919. Via Ohio Memory.

Veterans Day, held every year on November 11th, is observed as a solemn day to remember, remark on and honor military servicemen and servicewomen throughout the history of the United States. Initiated in 1919 as Armistice Day, the holiday was originally conceived to mark and celebrate the anniversary of the end of hostilities after World War I.

President Woodrow Wilson ushered in its first celebration, which was meant to be filled “with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.” It has since come to serve as a commemoration and celebration of all who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and in 1954, was renamed Veterans Day.

Ohio Memory has a variety of resources for you to explore as we honor this holiday, including documentation of Armistice Day following World War I. The photograph at right shows crowds gathered on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse on November 11, 1919, one year after the end of World War I. More than 200,000 Ohioans fought in the conflict, and around 6,500 were killed.

Below, you can see soldiers saluting during an Armistice Day ceremony in Nelsonville, Ohio. Similar ceremonies occurred throughout the state, and continue today in the form of Veterans Day parades and other events.

Recent WWI veterans during an Armistice Day ceremony in Nelsonville. Courtesy of the Southeast Ohio History Center via Ohio Memory.
Recent WWI veterans during an Armistice Day ceremony in Nelsonville. Courtesy of the Southeast Ohio History Center via Ohio Memory.

We also invite you to take time and view the oral history recordings available on Ohio Memory through In Their Own Words. This project, in partnership with the Ohio National Guard, seeks to preserve the history of Ohio’s soldiers. Additional oral histories are available as part of Standing Together: Ohio Veterans and the War on Terror. If you are able to visit the Ohio History Center in Columbus, numerous events are taking place in honor of Veterans Day, including the opening of our newest exhibit, The Forgotten War: Korea 1950. This collection of photographs from Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer Max Desfor features 36 photographs documenting this less-remembered military conflict. However you’re able, we hope you take time to remember and thank our nation’s veterans today.


Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!

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