Saturday, November 08, 2014

Armistice Day: In Remembrance and Hope

On Tuesday, most governmental agencies in Santa Fe, including the public libraries, will be closed in observance of Veterans Day. Like Independence Day, Veterans Day is a federal holiday that is always observed on a particular date because of its historical association with that date -- November 11th. Monday marks the ninety-sixth anniversary of the day 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 The Great War 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 the armistice on this date (and not the subsequent peace treaties) that actually halted the fighting, November 11th came to be recognized as the end of “the war to end all wars." In the United States the 11th 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. Many nations observe an official "Two Minutes Silence" on November 11th at 11:00 am, to encourage people to stop their routine activity and pay quiet respect to those who gave their lives repelling aggression.

What became known as 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 in the sixty-nine years since the conclusion of World War II. World peace seems a forlorn ideal, as far off as it ever has. But what happened, or more precisely what stopped happening at 11:00 am on November 11th ninety-five years ago has inspired people to hope and pray for a permanent silencing of guns and a lasting peace. Do take two minutes on Tuesday, at 11:00 or some time of your own choosing, to pause and join the world in its yearning for peace.

Post by RG

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