We’ve done our fair share of traveling in France lately. We’ve noticed virtually every town there has monuments to local citizens who died in service of their country. The lists of names, often including those deported and killed locally, are a touching remembrance.
Veterans Day annually falls on November 11, but to make it a bank holiday/federal holiday it is observed on Monday, November 12 in the United States . Why November 11? On November 11, 1918, the armistice ending World War I was signed. On that day, hostilities between the Allied countries and Germany officially ended. Germany
Technical innovations like the machine gun, poison gas, tanks, and aircraft appeared in battle for the first time in World War I. Scientific advances and industrialization joined to create enormous death tolls. Germany lost 1,800,000; the Soviet Union lost 1,700,000; France lost 1,385,000; Austria lost 1,200,000; Great Britain lost 947,000. While that may seem small in comparison to some of the other countries listed, about 1/3 of Great Britain’s male population died in The Great War! Extrapolating, it’s difficult to imagine the devastating effects on experienced by some of the other countries listed, especially those who had the war fought on their soil.
Although we haven’t seen quite as many such monuments in Germany, we did see a few there too. We came across the one below in Bad Munster, near Bad Kreuznach in Germany.
After WWII, the holiday was expanded to remember those who served in that war. In the US, we’ve had a significant number of wars over the last century Veterans Day honors and thanks veterans for their service to their country.
War requires sacrifices and troops bear more of them than most. It is important to remember those sacrifices and the people who made them. War isn’t a triviality. It’s important to remember that it carries with it a human cost. Whether you call it Armistice Day or Veterans Day, it is a time to remember the price paid, the sacrifices of those that have served and honor those that did.