"War's Over!": Armistice Day and the Origins of Veterans Day at Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine



Dates & Times


Saturday, November 11, 2023


10:00 AM


6 hours and 30 minutes

Type of Event

Guided Tour
Living History


In her diary, Nurse Emily Raine Williams recalled, "Who of you that were on Fort McHenry can ever forget in your lifetime, the queer thrill that Serpent Dance which winded itself all over the Fort and gathered up everybody in its wake, singing in muffled tones 'War's over -- War's over'?" 

Established by President Wilson in 1919, Armistice Day encouraged commemoration of the end of the Great War, and community recognition of both service and sacrifice. This marked the first national remembrance of the armistice as the end of the war. Though the holiday was later renamed Veterans Day to recognize the service of all veterans (not solely those of World War I), its dual purpose remained true to its origins and, in the words of President Eisenhower, Americans would:

“…solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores to preserve our heritage of freedom, and …reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

Throughout the day, visitors will explore the history of General Hospital No. 2 at Fort McHenry during World War I and be encouraged to consider the following questions:

  • What challenges did those serving at General Hospital No. 2 face?
  • How did the World War I generation remember the war? What did they want for the future?
  • How can we best honor the service and sacrifice of current and past generations?

Ranger Program Schedule 

10:00 a.m. Morning Flag Change

11:15 a.m. "No Less Heroic": Battles of the World War I Homefront at General Hospital No. 2

1:15 p.m.  The Great War at Fort McHenry

4:00 p.m.  Evening Flag Change 

General Hospital No. 2 Living History and Exhibits

Ongoing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Reservation or Registration: No