I’ve always been against the renaming of Armistice Day into Veteran’s Day… now nobody remembers why we celebrate this holiday on November 11th.
We celebrate November 11th because on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month World War I came to an official close. Anywhere from 15 million to 17 million military personnel and civilians died in the conflict.
To put these numbers in perspective, that amounted to 4.29% of France’s population, 3.82% of Germany’s population, and a whopping 13.72% of the Ottoman Empire’s population. America got away with 116,708 soldiers killed or 0.13% of our population.
The world was completely re-made, empires fell, nations’ borders were redrawn, colonies were lost, and the stage was set for WWII.
Europe places more importance on Armistice Day than does the United States and England’s Mail Online has some stunning photos of the battlefields… then and now.
I remember when I was growing up there was an elderly man who lived up the street from me and he was blind in one eye. It was towards the very end of his life and he would spend a lot of time in his small backyard cutting the grass or raking leaves. He showed me why he was blind in one eye… the gas mask he was issued was in his hand all those years later and there was a crack in the lens. He said the poison gas had made it into his mask and blinded him.
He must have died 25 years ago now.
This reminds me of a quote by Herodotus:
In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.
On this day I feel very fortunate to not only have been born in that greatest nation the world has ever seen, the United States of America, but to have lived my entire life and never seen war with my own eyes and, for that, I give my thanks to the brave soldiers who have sacrificed so much in order to give me this gift.