It was 101 years ago 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 we now know as Veterans Day 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 war 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 74 years since General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender on the Battleship USS Missouri. Today, we still have troops fighting — and dying — on front lines around the world.
“Peace is at hand” has been nothing but a meaningless slogan for most of the past 101 years.
Armistice Day officially became known as Veterans 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 to 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 overcome.
The recent capture and killing of the leader of ISIS demonstrated both the precision and bravery of our troops, who are the most dedicated and lethal fighting force in the world.
Although Veterans 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 the debt we owe to 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.
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.