The Way It Was – Veterans Day

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Photograph courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library , Archi ves of Labor and Urban Affairs , Wayne State University

1938 We know it now as Veterans Day, but Nov. 11 was once called Armistice Day, a date reserved to honor members of the armed forces who died in World War I (1914-18) and to mark the signing of the armistice between Germany and the allied nations at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month. Armistice Day parades were held for years in many cities. Here, Jewish war veterans carrying flags march south on Woodward in downtown Detroit. In the background are three landmarks that since have been razed: Sam’s Cut-Rate Department Store (which was located in the original Detroit Opera House), Kern’s department store, and Hudson’s. World War I was once dubbed “the war to end all wars,” but it did nothing of the sort. Just a year after this photo was taken, World War II began. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, which salutes all veterans — living and dead. In England, Canada, and other nations, Nov. 11 is known as Remembrance Day. The date is also sometimes referred to as Poppy Day, the crimson flower symbolic of the blood spilled in World War I and mentioned in John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields,” which begins In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row. In this country, the poppy is associated with Memorial Day, honoring all who died in military service and held on the last Monday in May. — George Bulanda

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