How Veterans Day Came to Be

TIME

On Nov. 11, many years ago, a group of men gathered in a transport to sign a document with vast repercussions for the world.

This wasn’t the signing of the Armistice in a train car in France on Nov. 11, 1918, which brought World War 1 hostilities to an end; that happened centuries later. This was the signing of the Mayflower Compact, on the ship of the same name, that in 1620 established governing rules for the Plymouth Colony, one of the earliest settlements in North America.

The date of the Mayflower Compact signing has largely been eclipsed by the Armistice, which ended a war that killed more than 16 million people, including over 100,000 Americans. After the conflict, Americans commemorated the moment “from coast to coast and frontier to frontier,” as TIME wrote in 1927. Congress officially dubbed the date Armistice Day in 1926 and made it a…

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