On November 11th, the United States will be recognizing Veteran’s Day. In many other countries, this day of reverence is also known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. Recognition of our those who serve or have served in the military, and the gratitude for the cessation of fighting and hostilities from WWI, is commemorated much of Europe, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, India, Kenya, Poland, and other countries.
The armistice of World War I was the result of frantic negotiations occurring almost a hundred years ago, as it became clear that Germany had no hopes of prevailing in the battles that were occurring in many parts of the world. Although talks of a cease-fire started in October, it wasn’t until early November of 1918 that negotiations between representatives of the German government and Allied forces began to gel. Finally, on November 11th, at 5am in Paris, the Armistice was signed with an effective time of 11am later that day. Even with the signature and news of the truce, fighting in many places continued right up to 11am. The very last soldier killed in action was an American, Henry Gunther, killed one minute before the official start of the cease-fire.
One of the vivid images from WWI was captured in a poem written in 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who was a doctor in the Canadian Army. Stricken with the deaths of so many, McCrae found some solace by writing a poem as he looked across to a cemetery. In this place, and many others, McCrae had seen red poppies grow and bloom among the graves. His poem, In Flanders Fields, has inspired many to wear a red poppy as a way to commemorate the sacrifice of so many.
The American Bando Association will be hosting a training opportunity this Veterans Day weekend, and we’ll be continuing to honor our mission of honoring Veterans through our common remembrance of the debt we owe to those who are willing to risk their lives, with our collection of goods for soldiers serving overseas (our Care Packages for Troops collection), and by following a world-wide tradition of having a minute of silence at 11am on November 11th. I hope you can join us for this. If you’ll be somewhere else, you can plan to attend a Veterans Day ceremony or even hold a private minute of silence wherever you are at 11am. And perhaps you’d like to wear a red poppy – it might be a way to start conversations with others on your own respect for our Veterans – those currently serving, those who have served, and those who are no longer with us.
Sayamaji Deborah Kirkman
President, The American Bando Association