In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that November 11, the day of the World War I armistice in 1918, should be honored with "solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service, and with gratitude for the victory." In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Congress changed the day of remembrance from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
"On (Nov. 11), let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain," Eisenhower's proclamation said.
Through these historic photos, we pay tribute to the veterans — both those who are living, and those who were lost — of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and many other battles for freedom and peace throughout history.
"We have a duty as well to remember the history that our veterans lived and to appreciate and honor the history they made. We cannot expect future generations to understand fully what those who came before saw, experienced, and felt in battle. But we can make sure that our children know enough to say "thank you" — those two simple words that can mean as much or even more than a medal."
— Bill Clinton, November 11, 1998
An American GI has his hands full as he takes two Vietnamese girls to safety in Saigon, May 9, 1968. They were trying to flee from an area threatened by Viet Cong terrorists.
An American doughboy from the First Division throws a hand grenade in battle during World War I along the Western Front in France on March 15, 1918.
Huey helicopters, carrying troops of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade, settle in for a landing near the Montagnard village of Plei Ho Drong in August 1965.
"America is proud of you who served—and ever will be proud."
— Franklin D. Roosevelt, November 11, 1940
An unidentified Vietnam veteran consoles another vet at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington on Saturday, Nov. 10, 1984.
Hovering U.S. Army helicopters pour machine gun fire into tree line to cover the advance of South Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp 18 miles north of Tay Ninh, northwest of Saigon near the Cambodian border, in March 1965 during the Vietnam War.
"From Valley Forge to Vietnam, from Kuwait to Kandahar, from Berlin to Baghdad, our veterans have borne the costs of America's wars — and they have stood watch over America's peace."
— George W. Bush, November 11, 2006
In this June 6, 1944 photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a U.S. Coast Guard landing barge, tightly packed with helmeted soldiers, approaches the shore at Normandy, France, during initial Allied landing operations.
In this photo taken Sunday, June 7, 2009, A U.S. Army soldier from A Co., 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment tries out a child's bike during a joint operation with Iraqi National Police in Mosul, Iraq.
Native American Rudy S. Perez, right, slautes as the flag is raised during a Veterans Day ceremony at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2003.
"The protected can’t begin to understand the price paid so they and their families can sleep safe and free at night. No, they are not victims, but are warriors, your warriors, and warriors are never victims, regardless of how and where they fall. Death, or fear of death, has no power over them. Their paths are paved by sacrifice, sacrifices they gladly make — for you."
— Lieutenant General John F. Kelly, November 13, 2010
Thousands of U.S. 3rd Division troops wait to board Landing Ship Tanks on an unidentified beach in Italy in preparation for Operation Dragoon in this Aug 10, 1944, photo.
Dressed as a soldier, Ivan Martinez, 4, salutes a statue of a soldier resting, at the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 11, 1997.
In this Jan. 23, 1942 file photo, Major James A. Ellison, left, returns the salute of Mac Ross of Dayton, Ohio, as he inspects the cadets at the Basic and Advanced Flying School for black United States Army Air Corps cadets at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala.
Silvia Rich, left, holds a sign to thank veterans during the Veteran's Day parade along Fifth Avenue in New York, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2004. Rich, now of New York, was liberated in Italy by U.S. forces during World War II, and has attended the parade every year since to give her thanks, she says.
"The thing they forget is that liberty and freedom and democracy are so very precious that you do not fight to win them once and stop. Liberty and freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them."
— Sergeant Alvin C. York
New York troops in Corbie, France, celebrate the signing of the Armistice Treaty, Nov. 11, 1918.
U.S. Army Capt. Charles Ford plays a video game with seven-year-old Wa'ad, who lost an arm and a leg to an improvised bomb, during a visit to the child's home near Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad in Iraq's volatile Diyala province Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008.
"To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."
— General George Washington, January 8, 1790
In this June 8, 1944 photo, a group of American assault troops who stormed Normandy, France, take time out for food.
In this June 6, 1944 photo, American paratroopers fly over the English Channel en route to play a key role in the invasion of France by landing along a 100 mile front of the Normandy coast.
In this Dec. 22, 1943, file photo, members of the Women Army Corps (WAC) stationed at a U.S. medium bomber station in England, ride bicycles on their way to work.
"Let us make sure, on this beautiful day, the debt we owe to so many is properly honored. Let this Veterans Day strengthen our resolve to always walk the extra mile for peace, but always walk it strong and unafraid--for without a mighty America no peace can long survive."
— Gerald Ford, October 28, 1974
Fourth Division Marines are pinned down by enemy fire as they hit the beach at Iwo Jima on D-Day, Japan on Feb. 19, 1945.
American soldiers, riding camels while off duty, wave to a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress in this March 1943 file photo, in Tunisia.
Carnations sit at the foot of the African-American Civil War Memorial in Washington Monday, Nov. 12, 2001 during a Veterans Day ceremony.
American and allied troops wade through the water from a Landing Ship Tank on an unidentified beach, east of Toulon, southern French riviera, as part of Operation Dragoon, in this Aug 16, 1944, photo.
"Those who love peace most are those who serve in the Armed Forces and whose lives would first be lost if conflict occurs."
— Jimmy Carter, October 24, 1977
Veterans of European ground and aerial warfare pose beside one of the antiquated chair cars in which nearly 300 soldiers arrived in Salt Lake City after a four-day trip from Boston on July 6, 1945. The men were given showers at a downtown gymnasium and then placed aboard sleepers for the rest of their trip to California military centers. From left to right standing are, Sgt. Fred Pechac, Lt. Robert Baldwin, Sgt. Edward Penna. In window are Pfc. Maure Mills, left, and Pfc. Delmer Earl, right.
Veterans of Korean fighting kneel during Catholic services on the western Korean front on Mother's Day, May 13, 1951. Major Paul D. Roche, of Chicago, a 24th Division Chaplain, celebrated mass at an Improvised altar on the hood of a jeep. Altar decorations include flowers resting in emptied ration cans.
An unidentified person places his hand against the black granite wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., Nov. 11, 1986, on Veterans Day.
Vietnam veterans and family members gather at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Nov. 10, 1984. The candlelight vigil along the memorial wall is in honor of Veterans Day. The Capitol and the Washington Monument are aglow in the background.
"Our veterans are drawn from many generations and from many backgrounds. Some charged across great battlefields. Some fought on the high seas. Some patrolled the open skies. And all contributed to the character and to the greatness of America."
— George W. Bush, November 11, 2006
Responding to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, troops of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division deploy across the Saudi desert on Nov. 4, 1990 during preparations prior to the Gulf War.
Vietnam veteran Tim Groff of Lancaster, Pa., weeps as he stands before a statue of three soldiers, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, on November 11, 1987.
Parachutes billow in the wind after landing supplies at Plei Me during an attack on the Special Forces Montagnard post by the Viet Cong, late October 1965. The supplies enabled the Vietnamese troops and their U.S. advisers to hold off guerrilla advances until reinforcements arrived.
U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Tony Ferguson, of Bahama, NC, eats a field ration in the Saudi desert as an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter hovers nearby, Saturday, Nov. 10, 1990 in Saudi Arabia.
"We could not forget them. Even if they were not our own, we could not forget them. For all time, they are what we can only aspire to be: giving, unselfish, the epitome of human love-to lay down one's life so that others might live."
— Ronald Reagan, November 11, 1988
In this July 14, 1965, file photo, U.S. Army nurses Capt. Gladys E. Sepulveda, left, of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and 2nd Lt. Lois Ferrari, of Pittsburgh, Pa., rest on sandbags at Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. The two were waiting transportation to Nha Trang, to work in the 8th field hospital.
Chris Taylor, of Allegan, Mich., stops and salutes at the Vietnam Vieterans Memorial in Washington DC, Tuesday, November 10, 1992. Taylor, who was wounded in Vietnam in 1967, was in Washington for a ceremony marking the 10th anviersary of the memorial.
Four U.S. soldiers, runners for the 315th Infantry, pose somewhere in France in November 1918. The troops, identified as, from left, Pvts. William Wachter, R.D. Thompson, J.J. Mulcahy and John McGaughtry reportedly carried official orders to Lt. Col. Bunt near Etraye, France, shortly before noon, November 11, 1918, announcing that the armistice had been signed, thereby ending World War I.
"Since the origin of the American people, their chief trait has been the hatred of war. And yet these American people are ready to take up their arms against aggression and destroy if need be by their might any nation which would violate the peace of the world."
— Omar N. Bradley, 1948
Flight deck crew members take a bit of a break on an external drop fuel tank on the wing of an F/A-18C Hornet on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Gulf, Thursday March 27, 2003.
With the statue of a sailor at the left, a Navy honor guard takes part in a Veterans Day ceremony at the Naval Memorial in Washington Monday Nov. 11, 1996.
Charles Rawlins of Landover, Md., dressed as a volunteer in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, stands at the African-American Civil War Memorial Wednesday, Nov. 11, 1998 during a ceremony honoring veterans on Veterans Day in Washington.
"Americans — and millions of people around the world as well — enjoy the blessings of freedom, peace, and representative government because our veterans were willing to risk their lives for them. We are forever grateful to these selfless individuals, especially those who have given 'the last full measure of devotion' for our well-being."
— George H. W. Bush, October 5, 1989
United States Army troops stand in the trenches in France during World War I. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia. As a result, Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914, with England and Belgium entering the war days later. Under President Woodrow Wilson, the United States declared war on April 6, 1917 to make the world "safe for democracy." More than nine million people died before Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918.
Ron Deets, a Vietnam veteran from Loomis, Calif., pauses to look at statues of two soldiers at the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Capitol Park in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday Nov. 11, 1999. Deets served three tours with the Army in Vietnam where he lost both his legs to a land mine in 1970.
U.S. Army Spc. Lucas Edwards, in the A Company 3rd Battalion 7th Infantry Regiment, part of the 3rd Infantry Division, smells the perfume on mail sent from his wife Stephanie, in the desert near Karbala in central Iraq Saturday, March 29, 2003.
"On this day of remembrance, let us pray in the name of those who have fought in this country's wars, and most especially who have fought in the First World War and in the Second World War, that there will be no veterans of any further war — not because all shall have perished but because all shall have learned to live together in peace."
— John F. Kennedy, November 11, 9161
Private Marion I. Chadwick of New York City operates the gunsight at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on June 6, 1943. The group of women Marines in this photo were in training to operate a big gun to aid the war effort during World War II.
A crew of observers on the Empire State building is shown during the air defense tests begun on Jan. 21, 1941 in New York by the U.S. Army. Their job was to spot "invading enemy" bombers and flash information to centers which order interceptor plane.
Larry Green, 14, of Washington, a member of the Garnet-Patterson Middle School Drill Team, salutes at the African-American Civil War Memorial Wednesday, Nov. 11, 1998 during a Veterans Day ceremony in Washington.
With the towering 20,300 feet peak of Mt. McKinley as a backdrop, a formation of U.S. Army Air Forces A-29 planes drone along on the alert in defense in Alaska, November 5, 1942, during World War II.
"We Americans owe a great debt to all our military veterans, who have shown us — in peacetime as well as times of strife — the value of individual liberty and free and democratic government."
— George H. W. Bush, October 5, 1989
An American GI, unidentified, and a South Korean infantryman are shown together at the front somewhere in Korea on July 26, 1950.
U.S. Army troops hold a moment of silence while observing Veterans Day in Baghdad, Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003. Remembrance Sunday, Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, which fall near the anniversary of the armistice signed at the close of the First World War, are observed in many countries to commemorate casualties of warfare.
United States Army soldiers, identified as troops of Company M, Sixth Regular Infantry, celebrate in Remoiville, France, as the terms of the armistice are read in November 1918.
This was the scene in France when news of the signing of the Armistice Treaty was heard, Nov. 11, 1918.
Shipworkers, their trucks filled to capacity, parade up lower Broadway in New York during the first Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918.
U.S. Army military intelligence officer gets "five" from a child after questioning Iraqi bedouins in the desert of central Iraq Sunday, March 30, 2003. The bedouins welcomed the American soldiers with white flags.
U.S. soldiers from the Charlie company of the 1st battalion 504th parachute infantry regiment listen to a briefing before going out on a routine patrol mission around the perimeter of Fort Operating Base Solerno in Khost, Afghanistan on Friday Jan. 3, 2003.
"Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles, principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we're little more than the crust of a continent."
— Ronald Reagan, November 11, 1985
Jane Berett, officer candidate of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, salutes Lieut. John Snook of Aurora, Ill., while passing at Fort Des Moines, Iowa on August 10, 1942.
U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, right, talks with American women ferry pilots serving with the Air Transport Auxiliary at an airfield in England in Oct. 1942 during World War II. Standing next to the first lady is Pauline Gower, commandant of the ATA service.
The super transport ship, General W.P. Richardson, docked in New York, with veterans of the European war cheering on June 7, 1945.
“Better than honor and glory, and History’s iron pen,
Was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow-men. “
— Richard Watson Gilder
Lieut. Howard R.Koch hangs from a porthole of the transport General M.C. Meigs to greet his wife Averil on Feb. 14, 1952 in San Francisco. Two other GIs look on in amusement from a lower porthole. Koch was one of 4,742 veterans arriving from Korea on Feb. 14.
Iraqi children look at U.S. soldiers from Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion,187th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division as they man the gate of a Baath Party compound in Baghdad, Wednesday, April 16, 2003.
An Afghan boy shows what he has written on the blackboard to a U.S. soldier of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force at a school in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, March 24, 2008.
In this photo provided by the U.S. Navy, a Navy launch pulls up to the blazing USS West Virginia to rescue a sailor, Dec. 7, 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Lt. Channing M. Greene, from La Plume, Pa., U.S. special forces commander, and his Vietnamese Counterpart, seen over American's shoulder, ride their command post on the back of an elephant on June 27, 1964 in the Vicinity of Ban Don, South Vietnam, near the Cambodian border.
SP4 Nelson A. Parker uses a field phone to call for air power as a Vietnamese patrol is surrounded by Communist Viet Cong in the jungle 20 miles north of Saigon in Vietnam on Feb. 15, 1965. Beside him is Sgt. Lloyd E. Rath. Both were U.S. advisers with the patrol.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, right, talks to World War II WASP's (Women Airforce Service Pilots) Lorraine Rodgers, left, and Elaine Harman at the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Wednesday, May 22, 2002 after a wreath laying ceremony in honor of women who have died in service to the U.S.
Survivor of a bloody Marine battle near Binh Gia, U.S. adviser Lt. P.O. Brady, from Washington Bay, New York, gestures, Feb. 1, 1965, toward rubber trees from which Viet Cong attackers advanced.
Lt. Commander Kevin Hanson is greeted by his son Nathan, 2, after arriving aboard the missile cruiser USS Shiloh in San Diego, Friday, April 25, 2003, off the coast of southern California.
A young Afghan boy reaches out for a handshake to a U.S. Army soldier after a U.S. organized baseball game, in Urugan, 120 miles south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 16, 2002.
"To our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families — there is no tribute, no commemoration, no praise that can truly match the magnitude of your service and your sacrifice."
— Barack Obama, November 11, 2009
An Afghan boy smiles while smelling a flower as U.S soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division stand guard during a patrol in Mandozai, in Khost province, Afghanistan,Thursday, April 24 , 2008.
Pfc. Harrison Grimes, 23, keeps guard outside a hospital compound in Baghdad, Iraq on Tuesday, May 13, 2003. Grimes, of Eden Prairie, Minn., was born in Monrovia, Liberia, and came to the United States after surviving the civil war in his native country. Grimes remembers when he was a child watching U.S. forces protecting the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia and wanting to be a U.S. soldier some day.
Marines march near boots representative of the the Marines from the Third Marine Aircraft Wing who have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, during a memorial service, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2003, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
This was the scene in London when news came of the signing of the Armistice Treaty, Nov. 11, 1918.
During a break between classes, Spc. Chantia M. Pearson, a soldier with 512th Engineer Battalion from the Ohio National Guard, does some pushups at Camp Atterbury near Edinburgh, Ind., Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003.
Friends and relatives aboard a ferryboat (foreground) wave as 1,422 Korean veterans reach San Francisco, May 15, 1951, and crowd rails of transport Lt. Raymond Beaudoin.
A U.S. soldier stands guard near a U.S. armored vehicle as villagers look on during a stopping on the way for the inauguration ceremony of Mollia Girls School in the Ghorband district of northern Parwan province Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006.
A Special Forces man jumps from an H-21 helicopter in the area near Tacanh, north of Kontum, Jan. 4, 1963.
An unidentified U.S. paratrooper sergeant gives a piece of candy to a blindfolded little Vietcong suspect caught in a guerrilla controlled hamlet during a search and destroy operation in An Khe Valley on Sept. 18, 1965.
"There are some who've forgotten why we have a military. It's not to promote war, it's to be prepared for peace."
— Ronald Reagan, August 23, 1984
A U.S soldier speaks on radio as U.S Blackhawk helicopter with soldiers of Charle Company 173rd Airborne Combat Team onboard takes off as they head out into battle against Taliban insurgents at the U.S. forward operating base Bermel in Paktika, Afghanistan, Sunday, Nov 25, 2007.
U.S. infantrymen pray in the Vietnamese jungle Dec. 9, 1965 during memorial services for comrades killed in the battle of the Michelin rubber plantation, 45 miles northwest of Saigon.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 579 of the Riverside Drive district conduct a Veterans Day ceremony atop the marquee of the Sheraton Astor Hotel in New York, on Nov. 11, 1954.
U.S Air Force pilot Cpt. David Meinhart, of Plattsburgh, N.Y., jumps up to take a pre-flight look at the engine of his KC-135 tanker at an airbase in central Saudi Arabia on Monday, Feb. 4, 1991.
Esther Yates, 6, hugs her father Rodney as he arrives at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. on Friday, March 8, 1991 from duty in Operation Desert Storm. Yates served aboard a B-52 bomber based at Loring, Me.
U.S. troops take positions on top of the remains of the Qala Bost Fort, a 4th century B.C. structure built by Alexander the Great, as they guard the area during a visit by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann to review the area counter-narcotics program on Sunday, March 12, 2006.
Army recruits who answered the call to war fill a street in New York, April 1917, shortly after President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany in what would become World War I.
In this May 2, 2008 file photo, U.S. Marines, from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, return fire on Taliban positions near the town of Garmser in Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Cpl. Brian Phillips, from Farmville, Va., a soldier from the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), based at Fort Richardson, Alaska, talks to a child in a village in Zerok district, East Paktika province, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 18, 2009.
This flag, the largest in use by the U.S. Army when this photo was taken, was the first flown over the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein in Germany just after World War I by the 17th Field Artillery at Camp Blanding in Florida, and shown in 1942.
In this June 6, 1944 photo, Lt. William V. Patten, center and wearing an overseas cap, briefs his crew at a port in England before the invasion of France.