In 1921, an
unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National
Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River
and the city of Washington, became the focal point of reverence
for America's veterans.
occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier
was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England,
Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe). These memorial
gestures all took place on November 11, giving universal recognition
to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., November
11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). The
day became known as "Armistice Day".
Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a
Congressional resolution. It became a national holidiay 12 years
later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope
had been realized that World War I was "the War to end all Wars,"
November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But only a few
years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe.
Sixteen and one-half million Americans took part. Four hundred
seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.