In 1918, at the end of four years of World War I’s devastation, leaders negotiated for the guns in Europe to fall silent once and for all on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was not technically the end of the war, which came with the Treaty of Versailles. Leaders signed that treaty on June 28, 1919, five years to the day after the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand set off the conflict. But the armistice declared on November 11 held, and Armistice Day became popularly known as the day “The Great War,” which killed at least 40 million people, ended.
Thank you. Here in the UK, where I am visiting my WW11 Royal Navy veteran Dad, we honor Armistice Day. This includes 2 minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, even during the Lord Mayor’s Parade. It is a very moving two minutes. My grandfathers fought in WW1, my grandmothers fought at home to sustain the country. I owe them all so much.
The best way to honour vetersns is to see that we don't make too many more of them.
I wonder how we as a nation could equally honor vets and educate citizens about how to be peaceful, how to avoid conflict and war? Maybe we need a Peace Day too. A federal hoilday. It would be a day of education and participation for students in school and all adults in communities. There could be five main peace themes: world, national, community, interpersonal and self(within) peace. People could learn: non-violent communication skills, reasons wars start, how they can be more peaceful, how gov't policies promote or deter peace, and develop and participate in community and national peace projects, etc. The topics are endless. Okay, so maybe we need a Peace Week.
".... let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.” A warrior, intent on waging peace. Striking in familiarity with the mission of former President Carter. Thanks for all that to contemplate Dr. Peace.~
Alas, The League of Nations and President Woodrow Wilson are remembered for the failures of each. What followed 1918 was world wide depression, social collapse in Germany, failure of the German currency, hyperinflation with currency worth less and less in Europe and deflation and depression in the USA, with the dollar worth more and more, fascism led by Mussolini in Italy leading again to German aggression, to Adolf Hitler’s antisemitic Nazis and the destruction of the Holocaust and 12 million people slaughtered by Axis powers in the concentration camps and German crematoriums of Germany with a total 83 million deaths worldwide and formation of The United Nations, another international body aimed at peace that has largely failed.
The Korean War was fought under the UN flag, ending in an armistice, not in peace, with the Cold War and MAD threatening all life on this planet..
The UN General Assembly is powerless, the Security Council is a talk show, with a structure that allows veto by one of five over most anything that matters, with the threat of sanctions to replace wholesale slaughter, as man continues to threaten all life and the threat of nuclear war ever present in a world of eleven nuclear powers and racism that threatens world peace constantly.
In short, Lincoln’s War, our Civil War did not end the banality of racism with emancipation, the Great War led to the Great Depression, and the Great Depression led to the Axis Powers and to the Soviet Union and China, supposedly communist, with the United States and Great Britain leading Europe and the State of Israel hosting what’s left of the Jews - now fighting to survive a new fascism in the region and in the United States... as man demonstrates - Mankind once again shows the intolerance and aggression that knows no end.
Do we need a UN with real power to protect, or is the world dependent entirely upon the United States to maintain the peace with US isolationism threatening and borders overrun with the hoards fleeing warming... and Hamas, Hezbollah and the Jew hating powers committed by the destruction of all Jews and Russia fighting to destroy democracy and take over Europe.
We’ve met the enemy and it’s clear: man is the enemy of man, and the UN is not the answer.
Republicans are again isolationists and WW III threatens in Ukraine, in Gaza, in Lebanon and in Taiwan... to mention a few.
Do we need WWIII to destroy a billion people to learn who and what we are?
Will America allow Trump the fascist thug to rule the White House again?
My view: President Biden is the best we’ve had since Abraham Lincoln, our political parties are essentially dysfunctional, corruption rules with prejudice and dystopia threatens.
Let us pray.
A great reminder of the history behind this important anniversary. Thank you!
We thank you, Professor Richardson, for another history lesson that puts current events in perspective as much as the past. American isolationism is not new, nor is American support of autocratic dictators. Hitler had many enthusiastic supporters in the US in the 1930’s and we resolutely “stayed out of European affairs” as he put all of continental Europe under the Nazi boot. We got sucked in anyway, at the cost of many American lives. History is repeating itself with Vladimir Putin’s attempt to annex Ukraine. It should self-evident why we must do all we can to help Ukraine defeat Putin, yet we have many Americans who openly admire him and support Russia’s effort by seeking to cut off US aid to Ukraine.
Some of these same people seek to replace American democracy with a christian theocracy by putting forth the preposterous notion that that is what the framers of the US Constitution intended.
The question is; can we get to the 2024 election in time?
I am looking at a commemorative tableau, in pen and ink, drawn in 1921, memorializing 8 young Belgian soldiers: my husband's great uncle and different cousins who when between 19 and 25 years of age died in Flanders. Five of the eight were killed between the 18th of October and the third of November, 1918. We have a helmet and a belt. It is so, so sad.
November 11 should still be called "Armistice Day". That fact that the end of "the Great War" came at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month was symbolic of how close warring countries had come to destroying the world. But, America learned nothing from it. In 1945 America and France reneged on a promise that had been made to Ho Chi Minh to free Vietnam from colonial occupation and exploitation if the Viet Minh would help the Allies defeat Japanese forces in Southeast Asia. The U.S. supported France's refusual to leave Vietnam by providing 80% of the money to perpetuate France's colonial occupation of Vietnam. After the 1954 defeat of France by the Viet Minh at Dien Binh Phu, the U.S. continued to resist Ho Chi Minh's attempts to make Vietnam a free nation until the fraudulent Gulf of Tonkin resolution signed by Pres. Lyndon Johnson in 1965, led to the U.S. Marines invading the country, landing at Danang, and escalating a conflict that killed almost 60,000 American service personnel and 3 million Vietnamese by the time the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong defeated the U.S. forces in 1975. World history since then shows that America and other countries learned nothing from the 1918 Armistice to end the "War to End all Wars" and bring lasting peace to the world.
WWI ended with an armistice largely because the soldiers, exhausted, furious for being betrayed by the generals and national leaders, repulsed by the slaughters, w ere mutinying, deserting and becoming revolutionaries - and not just in Russia. English, French and German generals and national leaders had to end the war to stave off revolutions at home. While Veterans Day may be a federal holiday, the way the governments has treated veterans, especially since Vietnam is so terrible; it makes the word disgraceful useless: Veterans Day is now another day to exalt war and US militarism. This country doesn’t honor veterans; but it does create physical and mental, impoverished human beings over and over.
Thank you. One must hope for and work for peace. Our current administration is doing that and understands how solving root causes of war is the path to peace. You have highlighted those efforts and I appreciate that.
" but it is a concept that is currently under attack as autocrats increasingly reject the idea of a rules-based international order and claim the right to act however they wish."
Dr. Richardson, I think you mean like the United States did in 2003 when we, for no reason other than the lies of George W. Bush and the need of Dick Cheney's Haliburton for no bid contracts, invaded Iraq.
"claim the right to act however they wish".
Yep. That was US the USA.
"so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
Aye, but they were anyway were they not?
Around 200,000 innocent Iraqi citizens died in the "Iraq War".
As a boy growing up in the Washington, DC area I remember that on November 11, things just stopped at the 11th hour of the 11th day. Automobile traffic, the DC trolley system, shoppers, workers--all stopped for that sacred minute.
It was Kurt Vonnegut, I believe, who among others has pointed out that Armistice Day was sacred, but Veterans' Day was not. Now it is ads and sales, a prelude to Black Friday, just another US holiday.
I'm not sure the change in nomenclature was the villain, probably more of the change of our culture's trading of sacred memory for sacred dollar, but we have lost something.
Thank you Heather for writing until the wee hours to teach us the history of our country.
It is absolutely horrifying what is happening in Gaza ! The reality of that war on the civilian population is painful to witness and impossible to ignore.
Salaam, Shalom, Mir, Peace.
There’s always been a strong undercurrent of isolationism in this country. Even in the run up to WWII, people were resisting the US involvement in getting enmeshed in the war in Europe. It it took the US getting attacked for the forces of isolationism to agree to US involvement.
All of this is why it’s so important that we assist Ukraine as much as we can to stand up to Russian aggression despite these pitiful naysayers in Congress who claim the funds would be better spent here.
First, we can print more money, so that’s not it. Aren’t the ‘Pubbies always saying that deficits don’t matter when they’re the ones in charge? And second, the last thing the world needs is a third land war in Europe. As will surely happen, if Putin isn’t stopped. If he’s allowed to swallow Ukraine, Poland is next. A member of NATO.