Throughout the world, tomorrow, the 11th day of the 11th month (November 11), is observed as Armistice Day. On this day in 1918, the armistice or cease-fire was signed and implemented at 11:00 a.m. The armistice ended the carnage and destruction of the Great War (World War I). In the United States, tomorrow is known as Veteran’s Day. In the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth, it is Remembrance Day.
In the USA, it is a time to acknowledge the veterans of all wars, both living and deceased.
In the above image, then-U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama, places a memorial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, adjacent to The Pentagon. This image was made in 2016, Mr. Obama’s final year as president. The current president has yet to appear at a Veteran’s Day function.
In the UK and the Commonwealth, this date is a time to remember all of those who sacrificed their lives in the services of defending their Crown and their respective countries. Not just the fatalities of World War I, but of all subsequent wars are honored on this date. In remembering the dead, it is hoped to remind the living of the horrors of armed conflict. In the above picture, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II is laying a memorial wreath of poppies at The Cenotaph in London. Remembrance Day is a solemn occasion in both the UK and in all the Commonwealth, and the entire Royal Family participates in commemorating the occasion.
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders fields.
The above poem, written by a soldier who served on the Western front (near Flanders, Belgium) during World War I, references the red poppy flower that grew wild in that region. For this reason, the poppy flower has become a universal symbol of remembrance for those who died in military, naval and air service.
One hundred years ago this past summer, the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres) raged in the region of Flanders. This was one of the final major campaigns of the “War To End All Wars” (as was thought at the time) and this particular battle lasted from July, 1917 through November, 1917. Passchendaele pitted the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) included the combined forces of the UK, Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Canada and Newfoundland against the German Empire. The Armistice went into effect in 1918 and the end of World War I was official with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in France in 1919.