On the 11th Day, on the 11th Hour: Armistice

Nov 11, 2017 (San Diego) It is 99 years from that moment, when the guns went silent all over the Western Front in Europe. Those guns started to ring on August of 1914, and did not stop for a few long years of very bloody conflict. Europe lost a generation of its young in the trenches of the Western Front, and the open warfare of the East.

The Europe that entered the war was not to emerge, Not only was a generation lost in the crucible of war, but empires fell. Russia’s Romanov House was deposed in what later became a very bloody civil war. (Incidentally US Troops did land on Vladivostok at the height of the Russian civil war.) The revolution succeeded, and later became a nightmare of authoritarian rule. It led to genocide. As to the Romanov family, most died by firing squad. There are descendants, alas they were not in St. Petersburg so escaped that fate.

That Europe of the first war saw another two great empires fall. The. Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Modern day Turkey is at the heart of that era, since it emerged from that disaster. The Middle East had new borders drawn by European powers that won the war at Versailles in 1919. These borders were drawn on maps, not respecting where ethnic groups lived, or where natural borders existed. It set the ground for the modern day conflicts, as well as national aspirations, such as that of the Kurds. The Balfour Declaration set the stage for the rise of the State of Israel a generation later.

Germany lost the first war as well. The Kaiser fell from power and the country became a Republic. One that would fail in less than two decades, into the clutches of fascism. The Weimar Republic was replaced by Adolph Hitler. He would pursue a policy of ethnic cleaning, that would lead to genocide. At the end of the Second World War, 14 million civilians, 6 of them Jewish,
were dead within a system of concentration and extermination camps. Fields served early on in the eastern front. 

American troops were part of the allied front that defeated the enemy in both of these wars. November 11 was at first a day of remembrance for armistice day. To this day, Armistice Day is celebrated across Europe. The humble red poppy is work in England, for example. World War One did not come to an end on November 11, 1918. The cannons fell silent though.

In 1938 Armistice Day became a federal holiday. It did remember the veterans of World War One. By 1945, we had a whole new generation of veterans to thank. A few were veterans of both wars. Among them, high ranking members of the officer corp, such as General Douglas

President Eisenhower Signs the First Veteran’s Day Declaration

MacArthur. They were junior officers who served in the trenches. Some old Non Coms served a career and went back to Europe leading green horn troops that became very good very fast. After armistice in Korea on July 27, 1953 we had a whole new generation of troops, who had not
participated in the war to end all wars. This is when President Dwight Eisenhower signed the proclamation that transformed Armistice Day into Veterans Day, which recognized the service of all veterans, regardless of what conflict they served in. These days all former service members
are recognized.

Our modern world, you could argue, started on Sep 11, 1918.


Categories: Culture, history

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