Veterans Day: Why America chose November 11

Veterans Day lands on November 11 each year, as today's Google doodle celebrates. But why that date? The answer calls back to the original name for Veterans Day.
Google celebrated Veterans Day 2011 with a special banner.

Google celebrated Veterans Day this Friday with a patriotic Google doodle. Running a commemorative logo has become a tradition for the search engine giant. The company has now redesigned its logo for Veterans Day five years in a row. (Here was last year's doodle, in case you missed it.)

But why does this holiday land on November 11?

The idea of honoring US soldiers in November reaches back to the First World War, though we didn't call it Veterans Day back then.

American troops made significant headway in 1918, rebuffing a German offensive along the western front and moving Allied forces deeper into enemy territory. By November, Germany had had enough. It agreed to a cease-fire, signing the official armistice at 5 a.m. on November 11. The treaty took effect six hours later. On the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month," as the saying goes, the world knew peace once again.

The "War to End All Wars" had ended. For the next 36 years, America remembered November 11 as Armistice Day.

However, as we all know, war broke out again in 1939. A new generation of Americans risked their lives in World War II and the Korean War. By 1954, the name Armistice Day didn't sound right anymore. The scope felt too narrow. So Congress swapped out "Armistice" in favor of a word that could honor all of America's veterans, and Veterans Day was born.

But remember Armistice Day this year. Why? For the first time, this holiday has landed on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – of the eleventh year. That's right, 11-11-11.

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