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Armistice Day

  • Published
  • By Daniel Knickrehm
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Historian
A brief and unscientific poll of officers and enlisted Airmen revealed that few of us know there is a connection between World War I and Veteran's Day. If you happen to fall into this category don't feel too bad. I didn't know about this connection until I studied WWI as a history graduate student ... and I'm a veteran. However, I did ask a former history "major" if he knew what Veteran's Day was about. He said the day was about sleeping in, spending time with family and maybe having a beer. Thankfully, Lt. Col. Eric Bjurstrom, the Mission Support Group Deputy Commander, answered correctly.

Veteran's Day came about as a result of the armistice ending hostilities in WWI. Gen. Arthur Lichte's Veteran's Day article in last week's Carolina Flyer made it obvious that he is more aware of history than many of us. I was halfway through writing my article when I saw the general's article. At first, I was upset that he beat me to the punch but then I realized that Presidents outrank generals and decided to continue quoting President Woodrow Wilson. So, here it goes ...

- At 5 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 11, 1918, negotiators from many nations in Europe and the United States agreed to an armistice that eventually brought about an end to the Great War.

- One week later, President Woodrow Wilson's Thanksgiving Day speech reflected on this moment in history:

"This year we have special and moving cause to be grateful and to rejoice. God has in His good pleasure given us peace. It has not come as a mere cessation of arms, a relief from the strain and tragedy of war. It has come as a great triumph of right ...

"Our gallant armies have participated in a triumph which is not marred or stained by any purpose of selfish aggression. In a righteous cause they have won immortal glory and have nobly served their nation in serving mankind. God has indeed been gracious.

"We have cause for such rejoicing as revives and strengthens in us all the best traditions of our national history. A new day shines about us, in which our hearts take new courage and look forward with new hope to new and greater duties."

- One year later President Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

What better words could portray what it means to be a veteran? I hope that however you celebrated Veteran's Day, whether it was by marching in a parade or spending time with friends and family, you came away revived, strengthened and grateful for those who appreciate our service.