Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines armistice as “temporary stopping of open acts of warfare by agreement between the opponents.” In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Allied Troops and Germany declared an armistice. This cease fire led to the official ending of the war when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. “In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: ‘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 the nations…'” (U.S.Dept. of Veterans Affairs)
Many people living in the United States today have been touched by a family member, friend or co-worker who has served in a branch of the Armed Forces. A good number of Americans know men and women who have participated in combat in foreign lands. Some have lost loved ones to combat, both on the field or here at home while fighting the affects of war. Many in service have been lost and never found, their friends and families left to grieve without resolution. My grandfather survived World War I. I have heard the stories of my father and uncles who served in World War II. One uncle I only know through pictures and accounts from my mother. He died on his first mission as a paratrooper and is buried in the Netherlands. His older brother, when hearing the news, continued to re-enlist, each time taking on more dangerous assignments. While decorated with the highest honors for his service, this survivor suffered an extreme breakdown after returning. It took his lifetime and support of family to finally become somewhat “whole” again. At one point near the end of WWII my grandmother had a service flag in the window with four stars, three blue and one gold. Take time this Veterans Day to think of the sacrifices made by service people, families, communities and our country. No matter our personal views and beliefs, these individuals deserve our consideration and support.
Listed below are some excellent sites for online and in-person ways to take a moment on Veterans Day:
The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is celebrating 20 years of collecting experiences and creating an archive for the public. This celebration began on November 6 and continues through November 14, 2020 with a variety of discussions, performances and remembrances. Please visit the Veterans History Project for details and links.
Here in RVA the Virginia War Memorial’s mission is “To honor veterans, preserve history, educate youth, and inspire patriotism in all.” The memorial honors Virginia’s service men and women who died in battle, beginning with World War II. Its grounds are open to the public and the site, above the James River, is a fitting spot for quiet contemplation. Each year the memorial hosts a celebration on 11/11. This year’s celebration will be limited to 250 participants and will be televised and streamed on a variety of different outlets. Virginia War Memorial
The National Park Service includes Veterans Day in its “Free for All” program. These days allow free access to all sites within the NPS system. Virginia is fortunate to count many sites within the Commonwealth. For additional information and to locate national parks within the state of Virginia please visit National Park Service.
Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center has attended to the needs of veterans from Central and Southern Virginia and parts of North Carolina since 1946. This facility is located on Broad Rock Boulevard in Richmond. Although visitation is limited at this time, volunteers are always needed. For a list of volunteer opportunities and donation possibilities for individuals and businesses go to McGuire Volunteer/Donate
In Flanders Fields
John McCrae – 1872-1918
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Find additional poems through the Academy of American Poets