Celebrating Armistice Day, folks in 1918 might have sung this song, “Welcome Home” with its chorus “Welcome home the day of peace on earth is here”

CREDIT: A.J. Stasny Music Co. “Welcome home. 1918,” 1918. Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University. Call Number Music A-1619.

As an amateur historian my first thought on Veterans Day is its origin. First known as Armistice Day, it honored the men and women who fought and died in the Great War. The date of 11 November was significant as the Armistice ending World War I took effect on the 11th hour (11:00 AM) of the 11th day of the 11th month (November) in 1918 – and poetically enough this year’s Veteran’s Day falls on 11-11-11.

President Calvin Coolidge made Armistice Day an official Federal Holiday on May 13, 1938. In 1953 a movement began to honor all veterans on November 11th, not just those that died in WWI. A bill was pushed through Congress and signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower on May 26, 1954. A Congressional Amendment was made to the new law on June 1, 1954 renaming the holiday as Veteran’s Day.

When I think of Veterans Day my thoughts wander back to the Civil War when my Great Great Grandfather fought at Shiloh with the 13th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment. I’ll get out Dad’s old pea-coat he wore in the U.S. Navy, fighting in the Pacific Theater in World War II and make sure it’s still in good shape. Mine is usually a quiet observation as I honor those Veteran’s past and present who have preserved our freedom and have made the United States the great nation that it is today. Freedom is not free.

About the Author
William Bell is a veteran of some 34 years in law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels; he has been with US Customs & Border Protection since 1988. He received a commission in the Army Reserve in 1976 and served as a platoon leader with the 438th MP Company, 198th MP Bn., Kentucky Army National Guard and later was XO of HQ Battery, 1/141st Field Artillery Bn. (Washington Artillery), Louisiana Army National Guard. Bell competed with LE and military pistol teams and wrote his first article for Harris Publications’ COMBAT HANDGUNS in 1988. Check out his author archive here.

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Celebrating Armistice Day, folks in 1918 might have sung this song, "Welcome Home" with…