A Continuing Tradition

Today, Britain has shifted its observance to Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday of November each year. In Italy, the end of the war is commemorated on the 4th of November, the day of the Armistice of Villa Giusti which ended World War I for Italy.

In the United States, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades and other celebrations are held around the country.

A two-minute silence was first proposed by South African Sir Percy Fitzpatrick in 1919, a practice begun in Cape Town that quickly spread through the British Empire after a Reuters news correspondent cabled a description of the ritual.


Similar ceremonies developed in other countries. The South Australian State Branch of the Returned Sailors & Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia developed a simple ceremony of silence for departed comrades at 9 p.m. coinciding with the traditional 11 a.m. in Europe – due to the ten-hour time difference between Australia and Europe.

In many parts of the world, veterans observe silence at 11 a.m. local time as a sign of respect. In the first minute, the roughly 20 million people who died in World War II are remembered.

The second minute is dedicated to the living – the wives, children and families left behind by those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

How Will You Celebrate?

In recent years, the U.S. capital has marked Veterans Day with ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery where officials applaud America’s 23 million U.S. veterans.

Events have included concerts featuring such stars as Bruce Springsteen, Oprah, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, Eminem, Metallica, Jamie Foxx, Gary Sinise and Will Smith backed up by the U.S. Marine Band and public singing of "God Bless America."

Ceremonies always draw uniformed military personnel and many veterans and their families.

But there’s no need to come to Washington, D.C. to celebrate Veterans Day. Contact your local veterans group – such as the VFW, the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans – and find out what’s planned in your area.

Then, go participate – showing your appreciation to those who fought for your freedom.