It was 99 years ago this Saturday, on Nov. 11, 1918, that World War I formally came to a conclusion on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.
Americans observed the first anniversary of the end of the war the following year when the holiday originated as Armistice Day in 1919.
The first world war was referred to at the time as “the war to end all wars.” It was thought that never again would mankind engage in the sort of madness that resulted in the near-total destruction of Western Civilization and the loss of millions of lives for reasons that never have been entirely clear to anybody either before, during, or since.
Needless to say, history has shown us that such thinking was idealistically foolhardy. Just 21 years later, the world again became enmeshed in a global conflagration that made the first time around seem like a mere practice run for the mass annihilation that took place from 1939-45.
Even after that epic second world war, America has been involved in countless bloody conflicts in the 72 years since General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender on the Battleship Missouri. Today, we still have troops fighting on battlefields in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Niger, and God-knows-where else.
Peace at hand has been nothing but a meaningless slogan for most of the past century.
Armistice Day officially became known as Veteran’s Day in 1954 so as to include those who served in WWII and the Korean War. All of our many veterans since then also have become part of the annual observance to express our nation’s appreciation for the men and women who bravely have answered the call of duty to ensure that the freedoms we enjoy as Americans have been preserved against the many challenges we have faced.
Although Veteran’s Day, as with all of our other national holidays, unfortunately has become commercialized, we urge our readers to take a moment, even if just quietly by ourselves, to contemplate what we owe the veterans of all of our wars and to be grateful to them for allowing us to live freely in the greatest nation on earth.
In addition, let us offer a prayer that despite the drumbeats of war-talk emanating from Washington these days, a peaceful solution will be found for all of our present-day conflicts before they escalate into a full-fledged war.
If nothing else, Veterans Day should remind us that freedom isn’t free and that every American owes a debt of immeasurable gratitude and thanks to those who have put their lives on the line to preserve our ideals and our way of life.