Eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 marked the end of the Great War to End All Wars. In reality, November 11, 1918, only marked a ceasefire on the Western Front of World War I. Hostilities continued in Eastern Europe for some time. We also know, with the benefit of history, World War I did not “end all wars”. Hostilities from around the world continue today.
In 1919, Americans commemorated the first “Armistice Day” in recognition of the end the war and “the heroism of those who died in their country’s service and with gratitude for their sacrifice” as described by President Wilson.
While Armistice Day was originally set aside to honor the Veterans of WWI and was in 1938 made a legal holiday, in 1954 the word “Armistice” was replaced with “Veterans.” After that, Veterans Day was designated to honor all Veterans of all American Wars and conflicts.
Today, Sunday the 11th, marks the 100th anniversary of that first armistice. As you know, while many sacrificed their lives in the service of their country, many more sacrificed their physical and mental health and continue to deal with what they lost during their service. As we commemorate the 100th Armistice Day, may we all remember all that has been lost for our freedoms and way of life, thank those who gave so much and pray and promote peace.
As Katharine Bates said so eloquently in the poem now the lyrics of America the Beautiful:
Oh beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life.
Because they served….