1945: WWII ended. As November 11 approached, many thought Armistice Day (1918) should change to honor veterans of all wars, not just WWI.
1946: Raymond Weeks of Alabama took action, leading a delegation to the Pentagon and gaining support from General Dwight Eisenhower for “National Veterans Day 1947” showing him a draft program for the events planned for 1947.
1947: Birmingham hosted the first Veterans Day with Gen. Omar Bradley speaking at the World Peace Dinner, followed by a Memorial Service and Parade. General Eisenhower sent a telegram encouraging Birmingham to advance the cause of world peace and rights for all throughout the nation.
1954: Birmingham started the National Veteran Award and began the annual ritual of honoring extraordinary veterans at the National Veteran Award Banquet. [Last night in Birmingham, Medal of Honor hero Ronald Rosser (Korean War) was honored with the National Veteran Award in front of a standing ovation by an estimated 800 veterans and civilians from City Hall, Congress, and patriotic organizations across the country. He resides in Ohio.] Other states like Kansas joined the movement for establishing Veterans Day in 1953-54 encouraged by Alvin King of Emporia and legislation of Congressman Rees signed by President Eisenhower (also from Kansas) to make Veterans Day national law.
1982: President Ronald Reagan honored “Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, Alabama” as the “driving force” for Veterans Day in a speech from the White House on national television. Eliabeth Dole wrote the briefing for Reagan, including Weeks as the “Father of Veterans Day.”
2005: Tribute to the Founder of Veterans Day added by Patriotism in Action at the Weeks Monument in Linn Park across from City Hall as an annual event to “kick off” National Veterans Day in Birmingham. The monument “from a grateful nation” was dedicated in 1987 and is across the park from “The Flame of Freedom.” The street next to the monument and in front of City Hall was dedicated to Mr. Weeks and Veterans Day in 2014.
2012: U.S. Senate Resolution led by Senator Sessions affirms Weeks-Birmingham-Alabama for starting National Veterans Day.
Source: Patriotism in Action by Dr. David Dyson & Col. Stretch Dunn (USA Ret), Pages 17-81: Veterans Day Founding. Teachers, veteran organization program leaders, and civic club speakers can use resources on the Veterans Day Founding Education web page and on the Freedom to Flourish web page.
Please tell a teacher, student, parent of this history and encourage educators to teach why, how, and where Veterans Day started connected to school character traits: Patriotism, Courage, and Perseverance.