Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day: In Remembrance and in Hope

Armistice DayToday most governmental agencies in Santa Fe, including the public libraries, are closed in observance of Veterans Day. Veterans Day is one of the few federal holidays that has not been made a “Monday” holiday because of its association with a particular date -- November 11th. Today marks the ninetieth anniversary of this date in 1918 when, at 11:00 am, the armistice signed by Allied and German commanders in a railroad car (pictured) in northern France took effect and the guns of World War I were silenced. Over four years of carnage and terrible destruction, costing millions of military and civilian lives, had ended. All was, finally, quiet on the western front.

Because it was this armistice, not the subsequent peace treaties, that actually halted the fighting, November 11th came to be known as the end of “the war to end all wars." In the United States it was called Armistice Day until 1954; across the Atlantic it became Remembrance Day -- a day to honor the memory and sacrifice of the war dead. As noted in this blog last week, many nations observe an official "Two Minutes Silence" on this date at 11:00 am, to encourage people to stop their routine activity and pay quiet respect to those who gave their lives repelling aggression.

World War I did not end all wars; in fact, the punitive terms of the 1919 peace treaties helped give rise to the vastly more destructive, and this time truly global, World War II. Other wars and conflicts have continued to erupt since the conclusion of World War II more than sixty-three years ago. World peace, even in this new millennium, seems a forlorn ideal. But what happened, or more precisely what stopped happening at 11:00 this morning ninety years ago has inspired people since then, especially on this date, to hope and pray for a permanent silencing of guns and a lasting peace. Do take two minutes today, at 11:00 or some time of your own choosing, to pause and join the world in its yearning for peace.

by RG @ Main

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