Hostilities in World War I (then known as The Great War) ended on November 11, 1918. The United States had entered the conflict on April 6, 1917, as Congress declared war. When the news of the cease fire was announced, large crowds gathered at Campus Martius and elsewhere in Detroit to celebrate the peace.
A year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson designated the first commemoration of 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…” In 1938, Armistice Day was made a legal holiday, recognizing the contributions of World War I veterans. Following World War II and the Korean War, in 1954 Congress amended the legislation to change the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day, in order to honor American veterans of all wars.
In 1968, the Uniform Holiday Bill moved Veterans Day observance from November 11 to the fourth Monday in October, in order to give Federal employees a three day holiday. There was controversy over the change in the date, and in 1975 President Gerald Ford signed legislation returning observance to November 11.
Today, we celebrate and thank all veterans for their service. Along with the Black Historic Sites Committee, the Detroit Historical Society will personally honor veteran Ernest C. Browne, Jr. for his service in World War II, to the city of Detroit, and to black history by founding both the Black Historic Sites Committee and the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum.