The following is a snapshot of the historic ending of the World War. Until there was the second World War, and we designated the two by numbers, this first war was THE World War.
On this day, November 11, we commemorate the men and women of our armed services. It is the anniversary of the armistice (stopping) of World War 1 in 1918. Major hostilities were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month with the German signing of the Armistice. (The signing of the Treaty of Versailles officially ended WW1 on June 28, 1919.)
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day, November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday he said, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude with the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
Many nations of the world transformed by the events of long ago have their own remembrances on this day each year.
We were on a trip to England one November. The four of us were staying in the Trafalgar Square area of London. Seeing as many of the sights on foot was our goal. As we walked about on this particular day in November, we slowly realized the impact it still has on one and all. Everywhere we went vigils were set up as well as services in churches throughout the area. Photos were displayed, candles were lit, and flowers offered as people gathered to listen to offerings of prayers and inspiration. Every person we saw was wearing a red poppy. It was part of the day and we finally sported our own in remembrance. We found ourselves at this moment in time only by coincidence at the Tower of London. As the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month arrived the yeomen warders on guard transformed their traditional blue uniforms to ones more noticeably red. It was a solemn moment and we were quite humbled by the outpouring of solidarity to the day.
The day is significant for several other reasons to me. It was my dad’s birthday one of many holiday birthdays in our families. Also I have my grandfather’s grave marker stating the words “The World War”. It has always been at our camp (built by my grandfather) and not at his grave. I can only guess my dad, sister, and brothers (all veterans of the second World War) did not want the copper relic to disappear from their father’s grave so it has remained up there to this day. I think of him always whenever I see it. Both sides of our families, I am proud to say, have had members in many branches of military service with the current generation and daughter #1 serving in the Air Force.
On this the 94th anniversary of the historic signing raise your flag in a show of remembrance. Don’t forget also to support The American Legion and wear red!
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The poem “In Flanders Field” was written by Major John McCrae. Appalled by the 1915 horrific Battle of Ypres, he wrote these words honoring the fallen soldiers and inspired by the red poppies growing over the graves of those soldiers buried in Flanders (part of Belgium and France.) The area saw some of the worst battles during the war with the significance of the red poppy representing the blood that was shed. McCrae died in France in 1918 yet his poem lives on forever recited in tribute and in many places near and far.