While World War I officially ended with the Treaty of Versailles, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.
Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, until World War II required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history. In 1945, a World War II veteran from Birmingham, Alabama had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans.
It was Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, who led a delegation to Washington, DC urging then-Army Chief of Staff General Dwight Eisenhower to create a national holiday that honored all veterans. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed legislation formally establishing November 11th as Veterans Day.
In 1982, President Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal as the driving force for the national holiday. Weeks led the first National Veterans Day Parade in 1947 in Alabama, and continued the tradition annually until his passing in 1985.