Veterans Day 2014 falls on Tuesday, Nov. 11, which means many U.S. workers will have to clock in the day before, breaking up what many thought would be a three-day weekend. What might seem like an anomaly to some is actually consistent with the history of Veterans Day, going back to its origin nearly 100 years ago.
The date of the federal holiday, which honors people who have served in the U.S. armed forces, coincides with the time and date of an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations that ended World War I. The ceasefire went into effect on the 11th hour of Nov. 11, 1918.
Unlike Thanksgiving, which is held on the fourth Thursday of November, Veterans Day is always observed Nov. 11 to align with that historic truce. Many Americans get a paid day off, and all nonessential federal government offices are closed. If, however, Veterans Day falls on a Saturday, federal offices will instead close Friday. When Nov. 11 is a Sunday, the day is observed the following Monday. Parades and church services in honor of Veterans Day are almost always held on the weekend closest to Nov. 11 to enable more people to attend and participate.
Last year, Nov. 11 fell on Monday, giving many Americans that desired three days off in a row. In 2012, Nov. 11 was on a Sunday but was observed the next day, and a year earlier the day fell on Friday, again allowing Americans to take advantage of a three-day weekend. Since 1990, Veterans Day has fallen on a Tuesday four times, including this year.
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919 (a year after the end of World War I) the first Armistice Day: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will 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 the nations.”
Congress officially adopted a resolution that recognized Armistice Day as a federal holiday in 1926. States quickly followed suit in declaring Nov. 11 a legal holiday.