WASHINGTON, DC, Nov 9 — This weekend’s salute to soldiers had special meaning as we celebrated the Marine Corps’ birthday, Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of the War to end all Wars.
On Saturday, November 10th we marked the 243rd anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Marine Corps. On Sunday, November 11th we celebrated the 99th Veterans’ Day, which was originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I. The so-called Great War came to an end when an armistice was declared 100 years ago at 11 AM on the eleventh day in the eleventh month of 1918.
This year, President Trump has declared the whole month of November as National Veterans and Military Families Month. In a proclamation issued by the White House, Mr. Trump urged “all communities, all sectors of society, and all Americans to acknowledge and honor the service, sacrifices, and contributions of veterans and military families for what they have done and for what they do every day to support our great nation.”
And, in a statement issued by the Association of Mature American Citizens. AMAC president Dan Weber urged “all Americans to make a special effort this weekend to remember all those that fought in wars past and present– your friends and family members who served and, of course, those who gave their lives for us. We honor those valiant soldiers, sailors and airmen who risked and lost their lives protecting their homeland. We should also take the time to remember not just those who fought our wars but all those who lost their lives in wars – the innocent civilians who were the victims of conflict.”
It wasn’t until nearly eight years after the armistice between Germany and the Allies, that on June 4, 1926 the U.S. Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a resolution that begins with these words: “the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed.”
Although the U.S. was late entering World War I, American bomber pilots were quick very early in the war to join in battle. So many of them “enlisted” that a separate unit of the French Air Service called the Lafayette Escadrille was created for U.S. flyers. It was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, a passionate supported the American Revolution who was given the rank of major general by the Continental Congress.
The red poppy became a symbol of peace and Armistice Day, after Treaty of Versailles was signed on November 11, 1918. Wearing the poppy flower quickly became a way of publicly acknowledging the horrors of that war and the sacrifices that were made.
Some still wear the poppy. Fewer of us can remember the poem that spawned the symbol—a mournful lament written by John McCrae, a Canadian soldier, in May of 1915 at the height of World War I.
There were parades, ceremonies and observances throughout the U.S. and Canada underscoring the significance of the armistice. In the U.K. as many as 5,000 church bells throughout the country rang out in unison at eleven a.m. on Nov. 11. And, you can bet that in France, which saw more than its fair share of the carnage, the commemoration of the armistice will focus on some of the bloodiest battles, including the battles of Verdun, the Somme, Amiens and Vimy Ridge.
In Australia and New Zealand, they call it Remembrance Day in honor of the tens of thousands of ANZAC troops who died in battles half way around the world, including the devastating battle of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.