At “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 the Allies of World War I and Germany signed an agreement for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, thus bringing this horrible war (and what war isn’t) to a close.
Some of the most intense fighting of the war took place in that last month before the signing.
But, my grandfather didn’t see it. Around the first of October he was hit with mustard gas and spent the remainder of the war in a hospital in France.
He returned home with his unit in May of 1919, but his life, and his health, would never be the same.
Work on my script to tell his story continues.
On the first anniversary of the Armistice, President Woodrow Wilson issued this message:
ADDRESS TO FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN
The White House, November 11, 1919.
A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.
With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.
Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.
To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.
In 1954 Armistice Day was renamed to Veterans Day, and we continue to honor our Veterans on November 11.