This Veterans Day a special occasion
TOMORROW is Veterans Day, but this year it’s special – it’s the 100th anniversary of the unofficial end of World War I.
The peace treaty wasn’t signed until later, but November 11, 1918 – at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – is when a truce called an armistice (pronounced ARM-iss-tiss) was signed and the fighting stopped.
One year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 Armistice Day. Other countries did the same, some calling it Remembrance Day. In the US, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
World War I was one of history’s largest wars. Most of the fighting was in Europe, but 30-plus countries took part, including the US. More than 29 million soldiers worldwide died or were wounded and an estimated 13 million civilians died – a horrific toll that led to it being branded “the war to end all wars”.
Each year, a US competition is held to design a poster for Veterans Day. The winning entry appears on pins and on the cover of the programme for a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
This year’s theme, “The War to End All Wars”, drew about 80 entries. Adam Grimm, whose design won, kept it simple. His poster has a large red poppy, the worldwide symbol for remembering World War The Word War I trenches at the Main de Massiges battlefield between the Champagne and Argonne fronts who was taken and lost several times by French and German troops between September 1914 and September 1915, as France prepares to mark the centenial commemoration of the First World War Armistice Day, in Massiges, France,this week. PICTURE: REUTERS
I; barbed wire to show the brutality of the war; and the pink hue of a rising or setting sun, showing the passage of time.
Memorial Day is another US holiday related to the military. It began as Decoration Day in the 1860s, after the American Civil War. After World War I, its meaning changed. It honours US military who died in any conflict and is observed on the last Monday in May.
Veterans Day also reflects a new meaning from the original Armistice Day, which honoured all who served in World War I, but
especially those who died. By 1954, the US had fought in World War II and the Korean War. Lawmakers decided to rename the day to honour all American military, past and present, whether they served in war or peace.
In the 1970s, Veterans Day was observed on the fourth Monday in October so workers could have a three- day weekend, but many people liked the holiday’s connection to the armistice signing so, since 1978, US veterans have been officially honoured on November 11. – Washington Post
German, French and European flags fly above Fort de Douaumont, at Douaumont, near Verdun, as France prepares to mark the centenial commemoration of the First World War Armistice Day, France, this week. Picture: REUTERS
A photograph of Canadian soldier Fredrick George Coppins adorns a cross placed in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in London.PICTURE: AP