On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the armistice that was signed by the Allies of the first World War and Germany took effect. The effects of the Great War had taken their toll in the over four years it had been fought. This was a war that saw new and horrifying technologies like tanks, aircraft, chemical warfare and the flamethrower come into use. Telephones and wireless communications came into being as well, and as far as the numbers go, tens of millions is a go-to figure for just about whatever you need to know, be it killed, wounded, missing or otherwise. The Great War was unlike anything else anyone had ever seen up to that point. November 11th, 2019 marks the 101st anniversary of the Armistice of Compiègne. 101 years since the guns went quiet and soldiers were left in the trenches with a feeling of “what now” after years of solid, unrelenting warfare the likes of which up to that point, the world had never seen.
One year to that day, Armistice Day was reflected upon by President Woodrow Wilson in an address. On June 4, 1926, the United States Congress passed a resolution calling for then President Calvin Coolidge to issue “annual proclamations calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate cerimonies”. On May 13, 1938, November 11 was made a legal holiday that was dedicated “to the cause of world peace and be thereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.” After years of pushing by a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks, in 1954 Veterans Day was created, a day that is meant to be used to reflect on any veteran who served the United States in any aspect.
If you are in the United States, chances are good that to the left or right of you at any given point in time is a veteran of the U.S. military service. In Britain and the Commonwealth countries, as well as France, Belgium and Serbia, Armistice Day is celebrated. In Poland, it is National Independence Day as it’s the day that Poland’s sovereignty was restored. In any aspect, it’s a time to sit and remember those who have willingly heeded the call to support and defend. Honor and thank the veterans you know. Reflect on those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and more important, reflect on how society as a whole can attain peace, as the world came to know it a hundred and one years ago.
When the guns fell silent along the Western Front, peace was so overwhelming that many didn’t even know what to do next.