Friday, November 11, 2011

Armistice Day Today

Since today is Veteran's Day, I thought I would mention that this holiday was originally called Armistice Day. It wasn't intended to glorify patriotism or war. In fact, it was established in 1918 to commemorate the end of WW1, an incredibly horrible time that was touted as a war to end war. Some estimates suggest that twenty million men and women were killed outright or died later from wounds. This number includes my grandfather for whom I received my middle name. The Spanish influenza spread by the troops killed an additional one million people. The use of trench warfare and gas exacted a terrible toll on the battlefield. In the first Battle of the Marne in September 1914, two million men fought and more than 500,000 were killed or wounded. French casualties totalled 250,000, 80,000 of them dead, while British casualties were 13,000, 1,700 of them dead. The Germans suffered 220,000 casualties.
If anyone cares to read an excellent history of the events that led up to World War I, then The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman is a must. Also, a gripping personal account not for the light-hearted of the life of a young German soldier in the war is narrated in the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.
Anyway for those of you who are off of work today because of Veteran's Day, perhaps it is worth a moment to ponder this historical event and consider the issue of man's inhumanity to man.


  1. Great post for the day. I have read the book by Tuchman as well as the one by Remarque and they are excellent and well worth reading. Unfortunately, WW1 wasn't the war to end all war, so much for man's wisdom or ability to learn from experience.
    Enjoy your weekend!


  2. Thanks for the reminder. I hadn't thought much about the fact that it was a holiday, much less what it means. I like the photo a lot.

  3. Until I read your post tonight I barely remembered that Veterans' Day was once called Armistice Day. I never did know how it was celebrated until I read this Huffington Post article by Coleen Rowley, which also contains some wonderful quotations.