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Department of Veterans Affairs


A Brief History of Veterans Day

When World War I, termed 'The Great War' in its day, officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. The fighting, however, had ended seven months earlier due to an armistice (temporary end to hostilities). The armistice was agreed upon on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, giving us November 11, 1918. This day was regarded as the end of the 'war to end all wars.'

In November of 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a resolution on June 4, 1926, stating:

"Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made November 11 in each year a legal holiday. The day was to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.' While Armistice Day was set aside to honor the veterans of World War I, after World War II required the greatest mobilization of armed forces in American history, after the Korean War, the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by dropping the term 'Armistice' and inserting the term 'Veterans.' When this legislation (Public Law 380) was approved on June 1, 1954, November 11 became the day to remember and honor all veterans from all wars.

 

Veterans History Project

About the Veterans History Project
The
Veterans History Project was created by the United States Congress in 2000. Public Law 106-380, sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind, Amo Houghton, and Steny Hoyer in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel in the U.S. Senate, was signed by President Bill Clinton on October 27, 200.

The Veterans History Project focuses on the first-hand accounts of U.S. veterans and citizens (who were actively involved in the war effort) collected by volunteers. Primary sources from the following wars of the 20th century are being collected:

- World War I (1914-1920)
- World War II (1939-1946)
- Korean War (1950-1955)
- Vietnam War (1961-1975)
- Persian Gulf War (1990-1995)
- Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present)

Participating in the Veterans History Project
The Project's web site provides information on how to
collect stories. First and foremost, the Veterans History Project is looking to collect audio (on either cassette or CD, but not microcassettes) and video (digital video, Hi-8/8mm, VHS video, DVD) of the veterans/civilians telling their stories. The Project will also accept supplementary materials (narratives/memoirs, letters, diaries/journals, maps, photos (black & white or color)). Unfortunately, the Veterans History Project cannot accept medals, canteens, uniforms/helmets, dog tags, and weapons or military equipment.

There are various kits and forms available for download. The interview kit offers information on performing and planning interviews and collecting the information. The memoir kit allows individuals to record their own stories. You can download the complete set of project forms, which includes a checklist, biographical data form, veteran's release form, interviewer's release form, audio/video recording log, and a photograph log. The biographical data, veteran's release, and interviewer's release forms are required when submitting a story.

See and Hear Veterans' Stories
The See and Hear Veterans' Stories section of the Project's site hosts an evolving focus story. Currently, the Project is highlighting
'Forever A Soldier', the second in a series of books highlighting 37 servicemen and women's stories collected by the Project. Visitors to this section of the site have access to excerpts from six chapters in the book. The past highlights on the See and Hear Veterans' Stories page are available for browsing. Some previous collections include Courage, Patriotism, Community; Sweethearts, Buddies, Family Ties; Life-Altering Moments, On a Mission, Hurry Up & Wait; D-Day Anniversary; Prisoners of War; Voices of War (Companion Web site); Military Medicine; and War's End: VE- and VJ-Days. For an all-in-one listing of these areas, please visit the All Story Themes web page.

Search the Veterans Database
When searching the Veterans History Project database, there are two ways of going about your search. The first way is similar to searching for anything on the Internet. The
Basic Search allows a user to enter a search term and choose a variety of search-narrowing variables, such as limiting the search to a certain conflict, era, or branch of service. If the person you are searching for was a known prisoner of war, you can also select that as a limiter for the search. There is also a 'Contained in' list where you can limit your search even more by choosing from the following items:

- Name of veteran/civilian
- Service location
- Service unit/ship
- Highest rank
- medals/awards
- notes
- name of interviewer/donor
- partner/interviewer affiliation

The second way of searching the database is to Browse through the database. This search method would be recommended to anyone who knows exactly who they are searching for. When you browse the database, you can choose to do so by last name, by war and branch of service or by all collections with digital items. Collections with digital items are those that the veteran/civilian submitted something in a digital format, whether it be an audio/video interview or a digitized memoir.

Viewing a Veteran's Story
When you have settled on a veteran/civilian you are interested in, you will be presented with the biographical information of the individual, a photograph (if one was submitted), and any digital items in their collection. The completeness of their collection depends on what materials were submitted by the individual and the thoroughness of the interview. Each veteran/civilian will have a different looking biographical page depending on these variables. Veteran Robert Adams has a very thorough collection. To view Adams' collection
click here, then select the image to view an easier to read version of the image. The right half of Robert Adams' collection page lists the digital resources available. In this case, we can view the complete interview. Clicking on the 'View Digital Collection' link in the upper right brings you to the page to view the interview.

 

Webcasts

The Library of Congress has several free webcasts available concerning veterans. Below, you will find a listing of the webcasts and their speakers, event dates, running times and descriptions. The webcasts hosted by the Library of Congress require RealPlayer to view. If you do not have RealPlayer installed on your computer, you can download it for free from Real's web site.

The Bonus Army: An American Epic
Speakers: Paul Dickson and Thomas Allen
Event Date: 06/22/2005
Running Time: 54 minutes
Paul Dickson and Thomas Allen presented a talk about their book, the compelling story of World War I veterans whose demands for better treatment became the Bonus Army March. The bonus was finally paid in 1936, but its ultimate importance lay in paving the way for the passage of the G.I. Bill of Rights on June 22, 1944. Dickson and Allen's book talk marks the 61st anniversary of that bill's passage.

War's End: Eyewitness to History, Part 1
Speakers: Benjamin Ferencz and others
Event Date: 05/26/2005
Running Time: 130 minutes
Benjamin Ferencz, an Army officer who served as prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, delivered the keynote address for the symposium, which commemorated the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Tom Wiener, historian for the Veterans History Project and compiler of the recently published book "Voices of War," moderated the first panel of eyewitnesses to events at the end of the war. Panelists were Art Buchwald, John Dolibois, Yeiichi "Kelly" Kuwayama, and John Glusman.

War's End: Eyewitness to History, Part 2
Speaker: Prosser Gifford
Event Date: 05/26/2005
Running Time: 86 minutes
The second panel of this event, which commemorated the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, focused on an historical perspective of the events surrounding the end of the war and was moderated by Prosser Gifford, Director of Scholarly Programs at the Library of Congress. Panelists included Klaus Larres, James Hershberg, Jon Meacham, Elizabeth B. White and Peter Black.

In Country: The Vietnam War, 30 Years After
Speakers: Gen. Julius Becton Jr., Bernard Kalb, Stanley Karnow and Daun van Ee
Event Date: 05/04/2005
Running Time: 118 minutes
The Veterans History Project hosted a symposium which included General Julius Becton, Jr. (U.S. Army, Ret.), Vietnam veteran and educator; Bernard Kalb, a veteran journalist, author and founding anchor on the weekly CNN program Reliable Sources; Stanley Karnow, World War II veteran, journalists and author of "Vietnam: A History;" and panelist/moderator, Dr. Daun van Ee of the Library of Congress Manuscript Division and Vietnam veteran and specialist in 20th century military history. The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center is a nationwide volunteer effort to collect and preserve oral histories from America's war veterans. The collection is housed at the Library of Congress. To date the archive has received more than 33,000 individual submissions.

 

Exhibits & Activities

The Library of Congress has two Exhibitions and the Learning Page has one activity related to Veterans' Day. Below, you will find a brief description and links to the resources.

From the Home Front and the Front Lines
This exhibition consists of original materials and oral histories drawn from the Veterans History Project collections at the Library of Congress. With an emphasis on World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1939-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnam War (1965-1975), and the Persian Gulf War (1991), the Veterans History Project, by act of Congress, collects and preserves the experiences of America's war veterans and those who supported them.
You can find:
-
photographs
- diaries, bound collections, and albums
- correspondence
- maps and flags
- military papers
- special collections and other items

Women Come To The Front: Journalists, Photographers and Broadcasters During World War II
Women Come to the Front: Journalists, Photographers and Broadcasters of World War II spotlights eight women who succeeded in "coming to the front" during the war--Therese Bonney, Toni Frissell, Marvin Breckinridge Patterson, Clare Boothe Luce, Janet Flanner, Esther Bubley, Dorothea Lange, and May Craig. Their stories - drawn from private papers and photographs primarily in Library of Congress collections - open a window on a generation of women who changed American society forever by securing a place for themselves in the workplace, in the newsroom, and on the battlefield.

You can trace each women's journey throughout World War II in this exhibit.
Therese Bonney
Toni Frissell
Marvin Breckinridge Patterson
Clare Boothe Luce
Janet Flanner
Esther Bubley
Dorothea Lange
May Craig

On The Homefront
Even though World Wars I and II did not take place on American soil, both wars were fought in multiple ways on the American homefront. This activity showcases a sampling of American Memory resources that illustrate homefront contributions during both wars. By studying these primary source historical documents, students can begin to understand how citizens of all ages, families and businesses pitched in to help fight for freedom abroad. They can also consider these actions as possible models for community contributions to peace efforts today.

This activity ties well into the Exhibit, "Women Come to the Front: Journalists, photographers and Broadcasters During World War II." There are five different areas to explore within the activity - Volunteer Work,Civil Defense, Conservation Efforts, Economic Initiatives, and Patriotic Support.

 

American Memory Collections

American Memory has fourteen collections that portray veterans, war, or military related topics. A description of each collection is listed, as well as any special presentations and collection connections.

After the Day of Infamy: "Man-on-the-Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor
After the Day of Infamy: "Man-on-the-Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor presents approximately twelve hours of opinions recorded in the days and months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor from more than two hundred individuals in cities and towns across the United States. On December 8, 1941 (the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor), Alan Lomax, then "assistant in charge" of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center), sent a telegram to fieldworkers in ten different localities across the United States, asking them to collect "man-on-the-street" reactions of ordinary Americans to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war by the United States. A second series of interviews, called "Dear Mr. President," was recorded in January and February 1942. Both collections are included in this presentation. They feature a wide diversity of opinion concerning the war and other social and political issues of the day, such as racial prejudice and labor disputes. The result is a portrait of everyday life in America as the United States entered World War II.

This online presentation includes one essay: "Making and Maintaining the Original Recordings." Also included are biographies of the fieldworkers who conducted and arranged the interviews, complete transcripts of the interviews, related manuscripts, and original disc sleeves. This presentation was made possible with the generous support of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the New Deal Network.
Special Presentation:
Making and Maintaining the Original Recordings
Collection Connections: U.S. History , Critical Thinking and Arts & Humanities

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945 
The images in the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection are among the most famous documentary photographs ever produced. Created by a group of U.S. government photographers, the images show Americans in every part of the nation. In the early years, the project emphasized rural life and the negative impact of the Great Depression, farm mechanization, and the Dust Bowl. In later years, the photographers turned their attention to the mobilization effort for World War II. The core of the collection consists of about 164,000 black-and-white photographs. This release provides access to over 160,000 of these images; future additions will expand the black-and-white offering. The FSA-OWI photographers also produced about 1600 color photographs during the latter days of the project.

Special Presentations: Documenting America: Photographers on Assignment , Selected FSA Images: Popular Requests and Staff Selections , Portrait Sampler of FSA Photographers
Collection Connections (Black and White Photographs): U.S. History , Critical Thinking and Arts & Humanities
Collection Connections (Color Photographs): U.S. History , Critical Thinking and Arts & Humanities

American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I and the 1920 Election
The Nation's Forum Collection consists of fifty-nine sound recordings of speeches by American leaders from 1918-1920. The speeches focus on issues and events surrounding the First World War and the subsequent presidential election of 1920. Speakers include: Warren G. Harding, James Cox, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Samuel Gompers, Henry Cabot Lodge, and John J. Pershing. Speeches range from one to five minutes.
Special Presentations:
Speaker Portrait Gallery, From War to Normalcy: An Introduction to the Nation's Forum Collection
Collection Connections: U.S. History, Critical Thinking and Arts & Humanities

Civil War Maps
Civil War Maps brings together materials from three premier collections: the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Library of Virginia. Among the reconnaissance, sketch, and theater-of-war maps are the detailed battle maps made by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss for Generals Lee and Jackson, General Sherman's Southern military campaigns, and maps taken from diaries, scrapbooks, and manuscripts - all available for the first time in one place.

Most of the items presented here are documented in Civil War Maps: An Annotated List of Maps and Atlases in the Library of Congress, compiled by Richard W. Stephenson in 1989. New selections from 2,240 maps and 76 atlases held by the Library will be added monthly.
Special Presentation:
History of Mapping the Civil War
Collection Connection: U.S. History , Critical Thinking and Arts & Humanities

A Civil War Soldier in the Wild Cat Regiment: selections from the Tilton C. Reynolds Papers
A Civil War Soldier in the Wild Cat Regiment: Selections from the Tilton C. Reynolds Papers documents the Civil War experience of Captain Tilton C. Reynolds, a member of the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. Comprising 164 library items, or 359 digital images, this online presentation includes correspondence, photographs, and other materials dating between 1861 and 1865. The letters feature details of the regiment's movements, accounts of military engagements, and descriptions of the daily life of soldiers and their views of the war. Forty-six of the letters are also made available in transcription.
Special Presentations:
Timeline: History of the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865 and Reynolds Family

Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
The images in this digital collection are drawn from the New-York Historical Society's rich archival collections that document the Civil War. They include recruiting posters for New York City regiments of volunteers; stereographic views documenting the mustering of soldiers and of popular support for the Union in New York City; photography showing the war's impact, both in the north and south; and drawings and writings by ordinary soldiers on both sides.
Special Presentation:
Before, During, and After the Civil War
Collection Connections: U.S. History , Critical Thinking and Arts & Humanities

The Hotchkiss Map Collection
The Hotchkiss Map Collection contains cartographic items made by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828-1899), a topographic engineer in the Confederate Army. Hotchkiss made detailed battle maps primarily of the Shenandoah Valley, some of which were used by the Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson for their combat planning and strategy. Several of the maps have annotations of various military officers, demonstrating their importance in the military campaigns. The collection also includes maps made or used by Hotchkiss during his post-war years, including maps with information about railroads, minerals and mining, geology and history, most of which focus on Virginia and West Virginia, but also cover other states and even the world.

The collection consists of 341 sketchbooks, manuscripts, and annotated printed maps, the originals of which reside in the Library of Congress' Geography and Map Division.
Special Presentations:
The Hotchkiss Collection of Confederate Maps and
The Hotchkiss Maps in Collection Order

Military Battles and Campaigns Maps
This category contains maps showing campaigns of major military conflicts including troop movements, defensive structures and groundworks, roads to and from sites of military engagements, campsites, and local buildings, topography and vegetation. Some of the maps are manuscripts drawn on the field of battle, while others are engraved including some that have manuscript annotations reflecting the history of the battle or campaign. A significant number of battle maps provide information about the locality that is not available elsewhere such as the location of plantations, the names of landowners in the area, the configuration of small towns and villages, and indications of prior settlement by native Americans.

Newspaper Pictorials: World War I Rotogravures, 1914-1919 
During the World War I era (1914-18), leading newspapers took advantage of a new printing process that dramatically altered their ability to reproduce images. Rotogravure printing, which produced richly detailed, high quality illustrations - even on inexpensive newsprint paper - was used to create vivid new pictorial sections. Publishers that could afford to invest in the new technology saw sharp increases both in readership and advertising revenue.

The images in this collection track American sentiment about the war in Europe, week by week, before and after the United States became involved. Events of the war are detailed alongside society news and advertisements touting products of the day, creating a pictorial record of both the war effort and life at home. The collection includes an illustrated history of World War I selected from newspaper rotogravure sections that graphically documents the people, places, and events important to the war.
Special Presentations:
Pictorial Highlights , Timeline 1914-1919 , Events and Statistics , Military Technology in World War I , The Lusitania Disaster , Pictures as Propaganda , The Rotogravure Process

The Rochambeau Map Collection
The Rochambeau Map Collection contains cartographic items used by Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807), when he was commander in chief of the French expeditionary army (1780-82) during the American Revolution. The maps were from Rochambeau's personal collection, cover much of eastern North America, and date from 1717 to 1795. The maps show Revolutionary-era military actions, some of which were published in England and France, and early state maps from the 1790s. Many of the items in this extraordinary group of maps show the importance of cartographic materials in the campaigns of the American Revolution as well as Rochambeau's continuing interest in the new United States. The collection consists of 40 manuscript and 26 printed maps, and a manuscript atlas, the originals of which are in the Library of Congress' Geography and Map Division.
Special Presentation:
The Rochambeau Maps in Collection Order

Selected Civil War Photographs
The Selected Civil War Photographs Collection contains 1,118 photographs. Most of the images were made under the supervision of Mathew B. Brady, and include scenes of military personnel, preparations for battle, and battle after-effects. The collection also includes portraits of both Confederate and Union officers, and a selection of enlisted men.

An additional two hundred autographed portraits of army and navy officers, politicians, and cultural figures can be seen in the Civil War photograph album, ca. 1861-65. (James Wadsworth Family Papers). The full album pages are displayed as well as the front and verso of each carte de visite, revealing studio logos, addresses, and other imprint information on the approximately twenty photographers represented in the album.
Special Presentations: Timeline of the Civil War
1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 , Other Photographs and Does the Camera Ever Lie?
Collection Connections: U.S. History , Critical Thinking and Arts & Humanities

The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures
This presentation features 68 motion pictures produced between 1898 and 1901 of the Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine Revolution. The Spanish-American War was the first U.S. war in which the motion picture camera played a role. These films were made by the Edison Manufacturing Company and the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company and consist of actualities filmed in the U.S., Cuba, and the Philippines, showing troops, ships, notable figures, and parades, as well as reenactments of battles and other war-time events. The Special Presentation presents the motion pictures in chronological order together with brief essays that provide a historical context for their filming.
Special Presentation:
The Motion Picture Camera Goes to War: The Spanish-American War and the Philippine Revolution
Collection Connections: U.S. History , Critical Thinking and Arts & Humanities

The Stars and Stripes: The American Soldiers' Newspaper of World War I, 1918-1919
From February 8, 1918, to June 13, 1919, by order of General John J. Pershing, the United States Army published a newspaper for its forces in France, The Stars and Stripes. This online collection, presented by the Serial and Government Publications Division of the Library of Congress, includes the complete seventy-one-week run of the newspaper's World War I edition.

When The Stars and Stripes began publication, American forces were dispersed throughout the Western Front, often mixed at the unit level with British, French, and Italian forces. The newspaper's mission was to provide these scattered troops with a sense of unity and an understanding of their part in the overall war effort. The eight-page weekly featured news from home, sports news, poetry, and cartoons, with a staff that included journalists Alexander Woollcott, Harold Ross, and Grantland Rice. Printing the paper on presses borrowed from Paris newspaper plants, the staff used a network of trains, automobiles, and a motorcycle to deliver the news to the doughboys (as the American soldiers were called). At the peak of its production, The Stars and Stripes had a circulation of 526,000 readers.
Special Presentation:
A Closer Look at The Stars and Stripes
Collection Connections: U.S. History , Critical Thinking and Arts & Humanities

 

Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a special Veterans Day web site, which holds some excellent resources for educators.

Veterans and Veterans Day Information

The Veterans' Day web site holds a tremendous amount of information as a whole, and, luckily, is broken into numerous areas, but we will only highlight a couple here. For a complete look at all the areas available, please visit the Veterans' Day web site.

The first area, the Teachers Resource Guide, provides Veterans Day School Kits. There are two different types of the kits, one for viewing on a computer (lower resolution) and one for printing (higher resolution). Both kit types are in PDF, so be sure to have Adobe Reader. Each kit type is broken into four different groups, a complete school kit, a teachers' section kit, a grade 4-7 kit, and a grade 8-12 kit.

The second area, Fact Sheets, provides information on Health Care, Benefits, Memorial/Burial, and Miscellaneous as they apply to veterans. Each sub-section provides its information in three different file formats, HTML, PDF, and Word. You will need to have Adobe's free Adobe Reader to view the PDF files. Each sub-section has multiple areas upon which data can be collected.

The third area, The President's 2005 Veterans Day Proclamation, brings you President George W. Bush's proclamation, delivered on November 2, 2005.

The fourth area, the Veterans Day Poster Gallery, offers the official Veterans' Day posters from as far back as 1978 for download and display.

The fifth area, and probably one of the most interesting areas available, is a personal account of the Burial of the Unknown Soldier. You can view the full contents of the account, which is a letter was written by Miriam ("Mimi") Felt to her family describing events in Washington, DC, around the time of the first burial at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in November 1921. "Mimi" was 23 years old and worked in the water sanitation division of the U.S. Health Service in Washington, DC.

 


 

 

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