Yes, today is Armistice Day, November 11, 2020. It was established to commemorate the day the armistice was signed in 1918 that ended World War I. As it has morphed into what is now called Veterans Day, the original intent of establishing the holiday has been forgotten as was the desire 100 years ago to end all wars. I think I would be safe in saying that most Americans, if asked, do not know what Armistice Day is, such has our teaching of history failed and our awareness of significant historical events over the ages dimmed to the point of being extinguished.
Gerry Condon writes at Popular Resistance:
“November 11th is Armistice Day, marking the 1918 armistice that ended the First World War, on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” Horrified by the industrial slaughter of millions of soldiers and civilians, the people of the U.S. and the world initiated campaigns to outlaw war once and for all. In 1928 the U.S. Secretary of State and the French Foreign Minister were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for co-sponsoring the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which declared war-making illegal and called upon nations to settle their differences by peaceful means. The United Nations Charter, signed by many nations in 1945 after the end of World War II, included similar language, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind…”
World War I was to have been the “war to end all wars” and although turning turning Armistice Day into Veterans Day might have been born with good intentions, honoring veterans is not the same as a day dedicated to ending war. Should we honor veterans? Yes. We must honor them all day every day by taking care of them and their families, ensuring they have health care, food, housing and jobs. We should be talking to veterans. If you do not know any veterans, I will introduce you to a dozen tomorrow. No amount of marching, flag waving, parading and trumpeting should be promulgated as a substitute, for we must ask ourselves what happens to our veterans on November 12th? Or the week after? Or the next month?
That being said, Veterans for Peace has issued this statement regarding the original intent of Armistice Day :
“Veterans For Peace is calling on everyone to stand up for peace this Armistice Day. More than ever, the world faces a critical moment. Tensions are heightened around the world and the U.S. is engaged militarily in multiple countries, without an end in sight. Here at home we have seen the increasing militarization of our police forces and brutal crackdowns on dissent and people’s uprisings against state power. We must press our government to end reckless military interventions that endanger the entire world. We must build a culture of peace.”
It is fitting that veterans are calling for peace. Even General Douglas MacArthur said in his farewell address to the cadets at West Point, “the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” I would have preferred that he said “works for peace” but he was of another era. And we are of this era. Time to get to work.