Like many other federal holidays, Veterans Day succumbed to the problematic "Monday Holiday Law" of 1968, which attempted to shift celebrations from their historic dates to neighboring Mondays, thus providing workers with a three-day weekend. In the case of Veterans Day, the shift was notably bizarre, for as of 1971, when the new legislation went into effect, the celebration was relocated to the fourth Monday of October. It would have made about as much sense to shift Independence Day to June, but the change was particularly ill-conceived, given the numerological significance of the original. Forty-eight states accepted the new date, but in the course of the next four years, 25 peeled away, and eventually, a total of 46 celebrated the old date. Federal legislation of 1978 finally and irrevocably returned the holiday to 11-11. (No doubt, the Vietnam experience had something to do with it.)
(read the full article: Alexander Watson, "The Holiday to End All Wars," New York Times, 10 Nov. 2008)Cambridge, England
TODAY is the 90th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War, and it will be commemorated very differently on each side of the Atlantic and across the borders of Europe. It’s a reminder that not all “victors” experience wars in the same way, and that their citizens can have almost as much difficulty as those of the vanquished states in coping with the collective trauma of conflict.
For Americans, Veterans Day celebrates the survivors of all the nation’s 20th and 21st century wars. In France and Britain, by contrast, the mood is altogether more somber. In these countries, it is the dead who, since 1919, have been the focus of the ceremonies.
Why this difference?
Video of commemorations in the UK, France, and Belgium