The eleventh day of the eleventh month is currently known as Veterans’ Day in America and has been celebrated as a day to honor veterans since 1954. Parades and ceremonies often honor veterans and sometimes other community events are held as well. In South Florida, West Palm Beach is hosting a community celebration on Veterans’ Day with a parade, live music, vendors and a picnic. (www.vetfriends.com/parades/directory.cfm?state=FL). Lake Worth is holding a parade and is currently looking for veterans and other military personnel to participate. Davie is holding events as well. (www.davie-fl.gov/gen/DavieFL_SpclPrjcts/activities#veterans). These events are one way the city governments and community give honor to and remember those who have served in our military.
A celebration of war’s end
Veteran’s Day is still called by another name in other countries as it was once in America: Armistice Day. An armistice is an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time; a truce, ceasefire, peace, or suspension of hostilities.
The former name, Armistice Day, was a reminder to all that wars should be fought for just reasons, not based on circumstantial evidence or rumors as some feel World War I was. When that war ended on the Western Front, it was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.
Sir Harry Hands proposed a two-minute moment of silence: one minute for the people who died in the Great War; the other for those who survived yet lost loved ones. The Armistice Day first public observation was formally celebrated on the grounds of Buckingham Palace the morning of November 11, 1919. The previous night, King George V had hosted a “Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic” as the beginning of the ceremonies. This holiday is still a reminder of the danger of military conflict.
Lessons from World War I
President Woodrow Wilson said of his beliefs, “All that progressives ask or desire is permission — in an era when development, evolution is the scientific word — to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle.” In keeping with his view favoring “the survival of the fittest,” Wilson aided the Allied powers by honoring the British blockade of Germany. This was in stark contrast to his previous campaign policy of keeping America out of the war. It was also in spite of the fact that neither side had a significant grievance with the other, according to Barbara Tuchman’s book, The Guns of August.
Wilson’s administration knew British ships carrying American tourists also carried munitions. In particular, the Embassy of Germany, urged by German-Americans, posted a warning concerning travel on the RMS Lusitania in 50 American newspapers; Germany considered the ship a war target. In spite of the warning, the vessel departed Pier 54 with munitions aboard. After the ship entered a German declared war zone, a German U-boat sank the Lusitania.
Wilson’s refusal to forbid the ship to sail, the later American intervention, and Wilson’s eventual collaboration in pushing forward the punitive Treaty of Versailles, were stages in the “domino effect” that led to World War II, said Perry Willis and James Babka at www.zeroaggressionproject.org.
Modern proponents of Armistice Day
The name “Armistice Day” was intended by Great Britain to remind everyone of World War I mistakes and the value of peace. The American “powers that be” (Romans 13:1) wanted no reminder of the follies of interventionist wars, so they soon pushed for a change. Congress made the change shortly after a WWII veteran, Raymond Weeks, proposed the idea of expanding Armistice Day to cover WWII victims. Representative Ed Rees from Kansas presented a bill to that effect, which Congress altered, changing Armistice to “Veterans”. Some veterans still prefer the older name, though most have become accustomed to the change.
Veterans for Peace (VFP), an organization currently maintaining more than 120 chapters, has attempted to restore Armistice Day as a recognized holiday (www.veteransforpeace.org). Since 2010, Veterans for Peace has consistently encouraged its members annually to ring bells in remembrance of Veterans’ Day’s former name. The Military Times, covering news for and about military members, published an article about the event (www.military.com).
VFP Executive director Michael McPhearson, who served during the Persian Gulf War in the Mechanized Infantry division, believes restoring Armistice Day would still honor the veterans. “Over the years, Veterans Day has become more about glorifying military service rather than really looking at the sacrifice and looking at [alternatives] to war; by re-invoking Armistice Day — adopted by U.S. and Western European countries after World War I — November 11 would honor soldiers who fought but also stress the need for peace,” McPhearson said.
Penni Bulten is a homeschooling mom who is fascinated with the Founding Fathers and their faith. She can be reached at [email protected].