The 11th Hour, of the 11th Day, of the 11th Month
The origin and history of Veteran's Day.
In 1918 at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the most bloody war in the history of mankind came to an end. The "official" paperwork would be signed a few months later at Versailles but this "armistice" on November 11th is widely regarded as the end of the war.
Twenty years later Congress made Armistice Day an official national holiday in the United States. By 1954, however, the holiday's name was changed to Veteran's Day because the promise that World War I would be the "war to end all wars" proved to be false. Celebrating an armistice that was broken no longer made sense. Celebrating those who fought and sometimes died in these conflicts made all the sense in the world.
There is a point of honor in celebrating and remembering the Veterans who fought in both these "Great" wars and others or any who have worn the uniform in Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere. This description of what makes a "veteran" has stuck with me:
"A 'Veteran' - whether active duty, discharged, retired or reserve - is someone who, at one point at his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'the United States of America', for an amount up to and including his or her life."
The men and women who risk or who have given this "last full measure of devotion" are more than worthy of a Day in their honor.
It should be noted that the armistice signed this day 103-years ago was signed in a railroad carriage at Compiagne, France. This place was chosen because it was where the Germans had previously dictated surrender terms to France to end the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Many people fail to remember how that earlier war in 1871 sparked the war in 1914. Which in turn sparked the war in 1941.
The onerous terms placed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles are credited with helping the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany and with putting in motion the events that led to World War II. And both the roots of the Korean War and also the Vietnam War can be traced to the end of World War II.
It should further be noted that much of underlying structure and strife in the Middle East can be traced back to the end of World War I as most of the modern boundaries of the Middle East emerged from the end of the war including the boundaries of modern Iraq.
In many ways we are still feeling the ripples from the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Too bad too few remember.