November 11th. We call it Veterans Day, but our grandparents knew it as Armistice Day. According to Merriam-Webster, an armistice is a “temporary stopping of open acts of warfare by agreement between the opponents :truce”
Armistice Day was first celebrated in 1919, marking the first anniversary of the armistice that ended “The War to End All Wars”. In 1918, the armistice between the allied nations and Germany went into effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Peace between nations.
In 1938, an act of congress made the 11th of November each year a federal holiday, ‘A day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.’
The War to End All Wars, didn’t. By 1954, this day dedicated to the cause of world peace, officially turned into a day to ‘honor’ the veterans of the growing list of America’s wars. Armistice Day gave way to Veterans Day. Peace gave way to patriotism. According to the VA, Veterans Day is ‘a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.’ Its important to honor our veterans, those among us who were willing to serve and sacrifice for the common good, but we should ask ourselves what it means to truly honor them.
Most Americans didn’t serve, don’t know any veterans, and can’t relate to them. Most Americans have no idea how many countries their taxes are currently paying to bomb, how many US military bases are scattered around the world, and how many sovereign nations their government has overthrown for political reasons. Forgetting our history, and ignoring the present, is the opposite of honoring veterans.
Nearly twenty million people were killed during World War One. Lets remember Armistice Day for their sake. Lets also remember Armistice Day for the sake of the tens of millions of people who have been killed since the end of ‘The War to End All Wars’ with casualties becoming increasingly civilian as time has marched on. From bombs and bullets, to famine and disease, war has claimed a lot of lives since Armistice Day.
As a veteran of one of the many wars since 1918, if you want to honor me and my brothers and sisters, please remember Armistice Day and pray for peace.