As we know now, looking back from almost 100 years in the future, unfortunately the “Great War” or World War I did not turn out to be the “war to end all wars.” What was once known as “Armistice Day” (made a legal holiday in the United States 1938 but observed since 1919)--a day dedicated to the cause of world peace and to honor veterans of World War I would become “Veterans Day” on June 1, 1954 as a day to honor American veterans of all wars, both living and deceased.
In other countries such as Canada, Australia and Great Britain, Armistice Day is now observed as Remembrance Day to honor the fallen veterans of all wars and not just World War I. The United States of course, honors its war dead on Memorial Day in May and reserves Veterans Day as an occasion to thank all veterans for their service and to acknowledge their contributions and their sacrifices during wartime and peacetime.
Since that first Veterans Day in 1954, the United States has seen many more wars and conflicts—Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan and we recognize, salute and sincerely thank all veterans for their willingness to serve, protect, and sacrifice for our common good.
The collections of the State Library are rich with the history and stories of those that served to protect—from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan:
- Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: a Compilation from the Archives, 1896.
- Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War
- World War I Soldiers Photograph Collection
- Pictorial History of the Twenty-sixth Division, United States Army: with Official Government Pictures, 1920.
- Wecter, Dixon. When Johnny Comes Marching Home, 1944.
- Tripp, Elise Forbes. American Veterans on War: Personal Stories from World War II to Afghanistan, 2011.