As today is the 100 year Armistice Day anniversary I felt compelled to write a blog as a small personal tribute to all those people who united in protecting our freedom.
What does armistice mean? It is defined in the dictionary as being “an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time; a truce.”
Why specifically celebrate on November 11th?
It was on the eleventh of November that the World War I allies signed an agreement with Germany to end the fighting.
Interestingly the actual agreement that was signed by the German, French, and British representatives was at 5:00 am in 1918 on 11th November. However, the actual agreement didn’t physically begin until 11 am, which was 6 hours later and why we remember at 11 am and not 5 am.
The word “Armistice” is now associated with World War one specifically but is also known as Remembrance Day or Veterans Day.
Regardless of the name, the day itself is recognised around the world as being the end of World War One.
Here are a few interesting facts about today;
The Armistice was signed in Compiègne, France,in a railway carriage a discreet and remote location which was roughly 37 miles from Paris,.
Ferdinand Foch was the owner of the railway carriage where the Armistice was signed all those years ago.
ALSO that very same railway carriage is where in 1940 Germany forced France to surrender in World War Two. It is said Hitler sat in the same seat that Ferdinand Foch sat in. Hitler then allegedly transported the carriage back to Germany to be put on display.
More than 15 million people died in World War One.
In the Armistice agreement, in order to prevent Germany to restart the war in the immediate future, Germany had to agree to surrender 1,700 warplanes, all their submarines, 25,000 machine guns, 2,500 field guns and 2,500 heavy guns.
Germany was also forced, by the terms of the agreement, to pay for the damages it caused and this debt which is thought to be roughly 35 billion was only finally paid off in 2010.
Although the Armistice was signed in 1918 on the 11th November it was the Treaty of Versailles which was signed in 1919 on June 28th that officially ended World War One.
In the USA in 1926 Armistice was made an official holiday. Later in 1938 becoming a national holiday and then the name of the holiday changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954.
It was at Buckingham Palace though that on November 11th 1919 the first official Armistice Day was observed.
In France Armistice Day is a public holiday and many business close for the day.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is found in the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. because is where an unidentified U.S. soldier was buried on November 11th 1921.
There are also other Unknown Soldier Tombs where unidentified soldiers were buried in Westminster Abbey in London and in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
France, Belgium, Serbia, and New Zealand all observe Armistice Day ~ however most commonwealth nations such as Canada and the United Kingdom, refer to the day as Remembrance Day and the USA as Veteran’s Day, as they want to also honour the sacrifice of all those who fought and died in all armed conflicts since and including World War One.
Some countries, namely the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark were neutral during World War One and so don’t commemorate Armistice Day.
I love this poem written by A. Lawrence Vaincourt, called Just A Common Soldier (A Soldier Died Today) and will end this blog with it..
He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.
And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbours
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke
But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
For ol’ Joe has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer
For a Veteran died today.
He won’t be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won’t note his passing,
‘Tho a Veteran died today.
When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Veteran
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?
The politician’s stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.
While the ordinary Veteran,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.
It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever-waffling stand?
Or would you want a Veteran
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Veteran,
Who would fight until the end.
He was just a common Veteran,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.
For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Veteran’s part,
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honour
While he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage
At the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:
“OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A VETERAN DIED TODAY.”