World War I officially ended in June 1919. But the fighting between the Allies and Germans ceased seven months prior, when an armistice went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
President Woodrow Wilson marked the first commemoration of Armistice Day in November 1919 with the following words: “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, an act approved by Congress made Nov. 11 a legal holiday — a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. With the approval of further legislation in 1954, it became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.