Why Birmingham is the birthplace of America’s first Veterans Day Parade

Veteran Raymond Weeks had an idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate and honor all veterans

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - On Veterans Day, we honor the brave men and women of the United States military, but what are the origins of the national holiday?

FOX Weather Multimedia Journalist Robert Ray went to Birmingham to learn why the city is home to the nation's first Veterans Day Parade.

Armistice Day was created by Pres. Woodrow Wilson in 1919 after the end of World War I to honor veterans that fought in that war, but then World War II occurred and everything changed.

A veteran of that war, named Raymond Weeks, of Birmingham, had an idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate and honor all veterans.

So, in 1947 he led a delegation to Washington, D.C. to urge then U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, to create a holiday that would honor all veterans.

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And in 1954, Eisenhower, who was then president, signed legislation that established November 11 as Veterans Day.

Weeks led the first Veterans Day Parade in Birmingham and continued with that tradition until he died in 1985.

Before he passed away, Weeks was awarded the Presidential Citizenship Medal by Pres. Reagan in 1982.

"We're a bit prideful here in the significance that it is the birthplace," said Mark Ryan, President of the National Veterans Day Foundation. "The real significance is the change from Armistice Day to Veterans Day."

The Veterans Day Parade in Birmingham is expected to start around 1:30 p.m. CST, and between 4,000 and 6,000 veterans will participate. 

In the past, approximately 100,000 people have lined the streets of downtown Birmingham to watch the celebration.