11/11/11 (Thank you!)


On November 11th in 1918 the armistice agreement between the Allies and Germany was finally signed, bringing an end to the war which had raged throughout Europe, at least in the western front. This agreement, which had taken several weeks to negotiate, was signed in a railway car in the Compiègne Forest in northern France and went into effect at 11:00 AM that day. From this we get the term “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” Right up until the final minute of the hostilites, war raged, but as that 11th hour struck, the western front went quiet and effectively ended “the war to end all wars.”

For the Allied countries, this date became significant, and memorials were created, perhaps most notably to honor the unknown war dead. In Great Britain, the remains of an unknown soldier were interred at Westminster Abbey. In France, an unknown soldier was buried beneath the Arc de Triomphe. And in the United States, in 1921 the Tomb of the Unknowns was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery and the remains of an unidentified soldier were interred. Congress declared November 11th a national holiday, Armistice Day.

Unfortunately, the “war to end all wars” did not live up to it’s name, and just a few decades later the second World War began. And that was followed by conflicts in Korea and Vietnam and the Middle East twice and Afghanistan, plus many other military operations in other places around the globe in which American servicemen and servicewomen bravely served. And even in times of peace, our military forces are always working, always protecting, always preparing for when the time when they will be called upon again to protect the principles that our country was founded upon.

And while today’s modern technological age has virtually guaranteed that no brave man or women who dies in service to this country will no longer by named, that was not always the case. Unknown war dead from World War II, Korea and Vietnam were interred into the Tomb of the Uknowns throughout the years. Through DNA testing, the remains of the Vietnam soldier were eventually identified and removed and returned to his family. All that remains today are the remains of the soldiers from World Wars I and II and the Korean conflict.

Because wars continued to be fought, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in 1954. On this day each year we give special attention to all of those who served our country, in both peacetime and times of conflict, both living and dead.

Were it not for the sacrifice made by these people and their families, the United States of America would not be the same country as we know it. The often used saying goes “Freedom isn’t free.” If you ever want to know how true this is, ask a veteran.

So today, during this eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, please take time to remember, honor and thank our veterans for their service to this country.

Many went, some came back, some are still there, and some will never return. And for all of these people, we give our thanks.

Thank you, Dad.
Thank you, Grandpa.
Thank you, Donna.
Thank you, Paul.
Thank you, everyone else may or may not read this for their service, whether I know you or not.

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