Monday, November 7, 2011

Armistice Day: What Peace Looks Like

A world at war...

The history of Veteran's Day begins with Armistice Day. 

 On November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m.,  a cease fire was declared between the warring nations of War I. The war largely consisted of Germany and Austria on one side with Russia, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom (including England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) on the other. The Great War, the war to end all wars, did not officially end, however, until Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles on May 7, 1919.

On Nov. 11, 1919, President Wilson declared Armistice Day an official holiday to remember, with a two minute cessation of business each year at 11 a.m. on November 11, those who died in the Great War. The day originally was conceived to include parades and other civic events.

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.
                        ~ President Woodrow Wilson's Armsitice Day speech

While the root of this war began, in one way, with a single terrorist act, the assassination of Archduke Franze Ferdinand in June, 1914, it quickly mushroomed out of the complex alliances – some political, some cultural, some traditional – that formed in response to his death. Two good sources detailing the alliances between nations during this war and the details of the Treaty of Versailles (often cited as the root of World War II) are:

What peace looks like...
To understand how this war impacted this generation, all one has to do is look at these photos of the world celebrating the end of World War I. This is what peace looks like:

In London at the Stock Exchange:

Two minutes of silence – with thousands of people – also in London:

In New South Wales, Australia:

In New York on Wall Street:

In Chicago on Michigan Avenue:

In Detroit (Photo by The Detroit News):

In Iowa (Photo by the Iowa Alumnus):

And finally ...
American troops in France knowing they are coming home (Photo by AP):

Let it fly!
The remembers Armistice Day with this look at what peace looks like from 1918. To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.

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