Veterans Day Founding in Birmingham

1946 at The Pentagon: Raymond Weeks petitions General Dwight Eisenhower to establish National Veterans Day. 

National Veteran Award Permanent Trophy
(Birmingham started the award for the nation in 1954)

 Both National Veterans Day and the National Veteran Award were founded in Birmingham, Alabama. President Reagan honored Raymond Weeks as "the driving force" for the national holiday.

Raymond Weeks of Alabama petitioned General Dwight Eisenhower at The Pentagon on November 11, 1946, to establish National Veterans Day 1947 (shown on the draft program in the photo). Eisenhower supported by asking General Omar Bradley to speak at the first World Peace Dinner in Birmingham and sending a telegram to Mr. Weeks on November 11, 1947, stating “I wish you every success in your purpose of arousing all American citizens to the need for cooperating among ourselves to the utmost so as to achieve the greatest of all goals—assurance of enduring peace.”

The first national celebration of this future national holiday to honor veterans of all wars and to perpetuate peace was held in Birmingham and included a World Peace Dinner with speaker General Omar Bradley, parade featuring United Nations flags of all member countries of the world and all military branches, Memorial Service, football game, and more.

Eisenhower’s home state of Kansas helped spread the national movement in 1953 inspired by Mr. Alvin King in Emporia, which founded their own celebration of Veterans Day in 1954. President Eisenhower signed into law Veterans Day as a national holiday in June 1954 as proposed by Congressman Rees of his home state of Kansas. Congressman Rees was the first recipient of the National Veteran Award established and presented November 10, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama led by Mr. Weeks.

President Ronald Reagan honored Mr. Raymond Weeks at the White House in 1982 presenting to him the Presidential Citizens Medal on national television. Reagan called Weeks “the driving force” for the Congressional action establishing Veterans Day. Elizabeth Dole wrote the briefing for President Reagan calling Mr. Weeks “the Father of Veterans Day.”

Raymond Weeks served as director of National Veterans Day until his death in 1985. “A Grateful Nation” remembers Mr. Weeks with a monument in Birmingham. Life Leaders hosts an annual tribute to the Founder of Veterans Day on November 10, prior to the National Veteran Award Banquet. Partners in this program include Patriotism in Action, Veterans Day Founding Education, and Freedom City of Life Leaders as well as the Mayor and City Council in cooperation with National Veterans Day.  The street in front of City Hall alongside the Weeks Monument is dedicated to Raymond Weeks and National Veterans Day by resolution of the City Council signed by Mayor William Bell.

President Reagan awards Birmingham's Raymond Weeks
the Presidential Citizens Medal at the White House,
Nov. 11, 1982. An interview on the White House lawn follows.

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