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An armistice occurs in war when two countries or groups decide and agree to stop fighting.  The term does not necessarily mean the war is over but rather acts as a cease fire resolution until peace treaties are formed or another type of agreement is settled upon.

Perhaps the most famous armistice in history was during World War I.  Allies and Germany agreed to cease fire until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 on November 11.  On the same day, President Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day and a two-minute pause of business was recognized at 11 a.m. 

The recognition of the historic day was adopted by France and the United Kingdom in 1920, and Congress went on to pass legislation over the next couple of days that eventually led to Veteran’s Day. 

For example, Congress declared November 11, 1921 a legal Federal holiday the month before on October 20.  The majority of states began to recognize November 11 as a legal holiday throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and Congress passed legislation on May 13, 1938 to make November 11 a recurring Federal holiday.  The federal government can only declare national holidays for federal employees, but most stated recognize Federal holidays now. 

On June 1, 1954, President Eisenhower signed legislation that changed the name of Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day.  Observance of the day was moved to the fourth Monday in October in 1968, but observance of the day was switched back to November 11 in 1978. 

Although the most famous armistice is associated with World War I, the cease fire agreements have continued throughout history.  The Korean War ended with a cease fire in 1953, and the Persian Gulf War ended on cease-fire terms on April 6, 1991. 

The conditions of cease fires have continued to change as many countries like the United States maintain troop control in countries that initially declared cease fires.