When I was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
“It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one and another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
“Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ day is not.
“So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things. — Kurt Vonnegut
There is something more to be said for Veterans’ Day. It should not be on November 11. That is and always should be Armistice Day. Established remembrance days should not be altered for transient reasons. Washington’s Birthday should not be President’s Day. Armistice Day should not be Veterans’ Day. To conflate the two belittles both. Veterans deserve a day of their own, separate and equally significant.
Today while I remember the millions slaughtered in the Great War, I also remember the veterans I know. Those who served in war and peace and who gave a small or large part of their life to the service of people they never met. Thank you to my Dad, to two Dickys, to Bobkat, Jimmy, Denis, Uncle Dan, Grandfather Dreher, Grandpop, Kenny, Charlie, Johnny and all other veterans. Living and dead. Those I remember and those I can’t. Those who went to war and those who maintained peace.
And remember, mixed with horror for the days preceding, the joy and jubilation of November 11, 1918. And maintain a moment’s silence at 11 AM wherever you are.
On the morning of November 11th I was with a section in the front, and had orders to harass the Hun until 11 a.m. when hostilities would cease. At eleven o’clock we halted at an estaminet and amazed the landlady by demanding beer and shouting “Le guerre finis”. — Corporal Robert William Iley, 21st (Service) Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps (Yeoman Rifles)
I have had many an old French couple come up to Major Merrill and me and throw their arms about us, cry like children, saying, “You grand Americans; you have done this for us.”
. . . Thank God, thank God, the war is over. I can imagine all the world is happy. But no where on earth is there a demonstration as here in Paris. I only hope the soldiers who died for this cause are looking down upon the world today. It was a grand thing to die for. The whole world owes this moment of real joy to the heroes who are not here to help enjoy it. — Charles S. Normington