Novermber 11th is approaching, so what? Well November 11th can be a big deal to veterans because it’s Veterans Day, not to be confused with Memorial Day (but people get confused anyway). Here’s something that may help you remember the difference, if you care. The number eleven resembles two letter “L”s, like in the word all.
November 11th is a day to honor all veterans but Memorial Day focuses on “memorials,” things that celebrate the honors of the dead. Another point, Memorial Day can float around the calendar but Veterans Day can’t, at least not yet. It is always on November 11th in commemoration of the ending of World War I, The War to End All Wars as it was billed at the time. The treaty that ended that war and, by the way, was probably the largest cause of World War II, stated that fighting would cease precisely at the beginning of the eleventh hour or the eleventh day of the eleventh month; eleven o’clock in the morning of November 11th, 1918. And, starting in 1919, that really was a cause for major celebration because World War I had been a very dirty war.
No war is clean, neat or nice especially guerilla and counter-guerilla wars but World War I wasn’t a guerilla war, absolutely not. No, it was a very traditional war with armies in uniforms, set battlefields and all of those niceties. What it was was something that very few of us today, especially Americans born after World War II, find impossible to comprehend.
World War I saw the introduction of poison gas and was used by both sides. Machine guns, real modern types of machine guns, not those hand cranked, clip fed monstrosities, were introduced and used against massed cavalry charges – until the cavalry quickly ran out of both horses and men. Trench warfare, tanks, massed artillery bombardments, very large caliber guns, fighter and bomber aircraft, bombing raids on civilian cities and submarines attacks along with a dozen other nightmares were all introduced during a war that lasted a little over four years and saw millions die.
But it ended, finally, and a Canadian who, I believe, fought nearly the entire war in Europe )and unlike the American Army which was engaged for only two years of so, wrote a poem about how well flowers grow in a field fertilized by the blood of men. It started, “In Flanders fields where poppies grow…”
Friends, very few of the men who fought in World War I had wanted to go to war, just like later with World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and the little dirty wars have offered their lives.
This day, November 11th has been set aside to honor them, what they have done and what they have offered. I really don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, a Green or a Libertarian; I don’t even care if you are a devoted pacifist – this is the day set aside for all of us to honor and thank our veterans. I wanted to remind you about this because your freedom to belong to whatever political party, religion, philosophy or whatever, has been granted you because men, and more lately women – of various ages, of all colors, of a great many different faiths, have set aside their safety, put on a uniform, and stood watch, have fought, for your rights.
To my sisters and brothers who have raised their right hands, taken the oath and put on the various silly suits, I salute you and I thank you most humbly and sincerely.
Sp4 Charles Arnold, RA
101 RRCo, 509 RRGp, Pleiku, RVN
HHC, 313 USASA Bn, Ft. Bragg, NC
HHC, 5 Evac Hosp, Ft. Bragg, NC
HHC, Womack Army Hospital, Ft. Bragg, NC