Armistice Day History
Armistice Day has been observed since 1918, and precedes both Veterans Day and Remembrance Day. Since the end of the First World War it has been observed yearly on November 11, by the member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is a memorial holiday to commemorate those who were killed in the line of duty while serving in the armed forces of the Commonwealth of Nations, and to celebrate the end of the hostilities of World War I. Hostilities ended at the signing of the armistice by Germany and The Triple Entente, also known as The Entente; consisting of the three main allies of World War I: Great Britain, France and Russia. The signing took place in Compiègne, France; at the 11th hour (11am), of the 11th day, of the 11 month, 1918. Though the signing signified the end of hostilities, the war would officially end at the signing of the treaty of Versailles, on June 28, 1919.
Crowds at City Hall in Broad Street, Philadelphia, celebrating the news of peace at the first Armistice Day in 1918.
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first declared Armistice Day as a holiday in the United States on November 11, 1919, stating:
"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."
Though it produced both Veterans and Remembrance Day, Armistice Day is still celebrated around the world. Remembrance Day became it's own holiday at the end of the Second World War in 1945, and Veterans Day became an observed holiday in the United States in 1954. For more information, visit our articles on Remembrance Day and Veterans Day.
Armistice Day Traditions
Armistice Day traditions are varied, as they encompass both Veterans Day, and Remembrance Day traditions. Flags are often flown at half mast in many cities around the world, a tradition that has carried on to Remembrance Day, but not Veterans Day - as Veterans Day is now seen not as a day of mourning, but as a day of celebration and honor of American Veterans.
A flag at half mast at 11:00 on November 11, 1936 in Sydney, Australia.
In many countries around the world, at 11:00 on Armistice Day, and subsequently Remembrance Day, there is a minute of silence observed to reflect on the sacrifice of the men and women who gave their lives during the First World War, and the many wars following.
The red field poppy is also a common symbol used during Armistice Day. For more information on history and use of the poppy, visit our page on Remembrance Day.