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History of the Veterans Day National Committee
In his 1954 Veterans Day Proclamation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for the formation of a Veterans Day National Committee to oversee national planning and coordination of the Veterans Day observance. He named the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, Harvey V. Higley, as Chairman of committee and called upon the heads of all departments and agencies of the executive branch of the government to assist the committee in every way possible.
Administrator Higley called together leaders of veterans’ groups and asked them to serve on the committee. The original committee consisted of associate chairmen from the following organizations: The American Legion, American Veterans of World War II and Korea (AMVETS), Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps League, United Spanish War Veterans, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
The full committee consisted of representatives from: the American National Red Cross; American Veterans Committee, Inc.; Army Mutual Aid Association; Army and Navy Union, U.S.A.; Blinded Veterans Association; Catholic War Veterans of the U.S.A.; Coast Guard League; Disabled Officers Association; Fleet Reserve Association; Jewish War Veterans of the United States; Military Order of the Purple Heart, Inc.; Military Order of the World Wars; National Jewish Welfare Board; National Society – Army of the Philippines; National Tribune; Navy Mutual Aid Association; Regular Veterans Association; United Indian War Veterans, U.S.A.; and the Women’s Forum on National Security. Many of these organizations continue to serve on the current Veterans Day Committee.
The committee meets three times a year in Washington, D.C., to plan Veterans Day activities, including selecting a national Veterans Day poster, recognizing regional observances that serve as model events to honor America’s veterans, and hosting the national ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
The committee also has an interest in ensuring that younger generations understand the true meaning of Veterans Day, and the sacrifices veterans have made to secure and defend the freedoms of the United States of America. To this end, the committee produces a teacher resource guide and distributes it to schools nationwide. The guide includes suggested activities for Veterans Day programs and information for students of all ages.