RTD remembers and honors the sacrifice of America's veterans

On Nov. 11, 1919, at 11 a.m., the Treaty of Versailles was signed, signaling the end of combat during World War I, a four-year, large-scale war that involved the Allied nations of France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan and the United States, fighting the Central Powers, which consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. This day was recognized by then-U. S. President Woodrow Wilson as Armistice Day to honor and remember those who died fighting in World War I.

Armistice Day became a federally recognized holiday in 1938, evolving to a day of recognition for those who fought in the war and celebrating world peace. However, that peace would not last long, as rumblings in Europe of a German dictator rising quickly to power started to spread.  

In 1939, German dictator Adolf Hitler ordered his forces to invade Poland. The invasion began at 4:45 a.m. on Sept. 1, 1939, which was the tipping point of the largest and bloodiest conflict humanity has ever seen. Over the next six years, the Allied forces of France, Great Britain and Poland fought the invading Axis powers of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Italy.

The United States would not get involved in the war until Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan retaliated against the United States for its embargoes on the trade of oil due to Japan’s invasion of China. That morning, Japanese naval forces commenced a surprise attack on the United States’ naval base of Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i. As a result of the attack, the United States declared war on Japan. As Japan was allied with the Axis powers, this declaration of war brought the United States into both the Pacific and European fronts.

Fast forward to 1945, when the war finally came to an end. On May 8, Nazi Germany leader Hitler was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, leading to Nazi Germany’s surrender. The war in the Pacific continued until the morning of Aug. 6, when an American B-29 bomber dropped two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The formal surrender of Japan came just a few weeks after on Sept. 2, officially ending World War II and the bloodiest conflict in human history.

Nine years later, on June 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed “Armistice Day,” a day created to honor veterans of World War I, to “Veterans Day,” a day honoring the service of all the veterans of U. S. military forces.

Today, we continue to recognize Veterans Day and honor the service of the millions of Americans who have served in the U. S. military. RTD thanks all veterans for their service to ensure the country’s freedoms are safe and secure for generations to come.