A proposal for Armistice Day: Sunday, November 11th

Armistice Day was established as a Federal holiday in 1938 as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.” It was repurposed as Veterans Day in 1954.

A Proposal: Let’s return to the old tradition of observing Armistice Day as a day for peace.

2018 is the hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I. The war ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month: November 11th, 11:00am.

At 11:00am this November 11th, a Sunday, most Unitarian Universalist congregations will be holding worship services. At that time, let’s all focus our services and our activities on peace.

There will be other activities taking place on and around November 11th. Most of those will emphasize relatively transient concerns, many of them important. Peace is a permanent issue. We have never known a time of world peace. We don’t know if it can be achieved; and if it can, we don’t know how. We will be challenged by peace for the rest of our lives. We remain hopeful.

Last month, the Arkansas UU Cluster and the Arkansas UU Justice Ministry “decided to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day on 11/11/2018. On November 11, 1918, at 11:00 a.m., World War I ended with an armistice. While the War to End All Wars never fulfilled that promise, UUs in Arkansas wanted to celebrate peace and the end of war. Join us as we celebrate a peace worthy of the name and honor all people of peace through Arkansas, the United States, and the World.” This proposal is an effort to amplify that call and to encourage people everywhere–especially Unitarian Universalists, but everyone who wants more peace in the world–to celebrate Armistice day this Sunday, November 11th, at or about 11:00am.

This is a dedicated page for Armistice Day resources. Your suggestions and contributions are welcome.

5 thoughts on “A proposal for Armistice Day: Sunday, November 11th”

  1. Sergeant Charlie Bell, of the Lincolnshire Regiment was my grandfather. In November 1918 he was due to go up to the front with the rest of his battalion, and after a couple of days come back to go on leave. And for some reason he was particularly nervous.

    It was the practice to hold back a few experienced soldiers as a cadre, in case something went badly wrong, and my grandfather found himself on that list. A few days later he started his trip home, via Boulogne and Folkestone, the usual route.

    He arrived at Folkestone early on the 11th November, and boarded the train for London. He arrived in an apparently deserted London, at around midday. He looked into a pub to ask what was going on, and, a soldier in uniform, didn’t have to buy a drink for the rest of the day.

    We never heard what the young lady who was to become my grandmother thought when he turned up late, with what must have been a major hangover. He finished his leave and went back to his battalion in France.

    My father was born on the 24th June 1920.

    1. Dave, thank you for your comments. My apologies my the slowness in approving them. Your father and mine were born in the same year. I think people who don’t know people with living memory of that time can’t quite grasp the impact it had on them. And I hope your grandmother understood. Since she did become your grandmother, I bet she did.

  2. John:
    You may wish to visit the National WW1 Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. It was the best museum coverage of WW1 that I’ve seen outside of Europe. If you ever go to Europe in general or London/Paris specifically – the coverage is impressive.

    The consequences of WW1 were profound. Let me mention a couple that are seldom discussed. First, Russia was the world’s leading wheat exporter in 1913. Ukraine & Russia just became the largest wheat exporters again – two years ago. The ravages of the world wars, the stupidity of communism took some of the world’s most productive farm land out of modern production for a hundred years. The amount of suffering caused by this is horrible to contemplate.

    Second, many of the ethnic wars today come from the relatively arbitrary divisions from the end of WW1. Syria, Iraq, the Kurds, the Balkans, etc….. are all from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire just prior to WW1 and subsequent to WW1. If you travel through the Balkans, the degree of hatred still preached in the schools, monuments, etc….. are just frightening.

    1. Thank you for this, avery! The kid and I owe Kansas City another visit. We only got an hour or so in the Nelson on our last visit, and I’ve got a cluster of cousins living there. The National WW1 Museum sounds like a great addition, at least for me, and the kid will ride along within reason (and always carries a book just in case).

      That second point–that “many of the ethnic wars today come from the relatively arbitrary divisions from the end of WW1″–is so true. It’s on my mind a lot, has been at least since I went on a reading jag about the post-Yugoslavian Balkans. These arbitrary divisions have inflicted real harms on people, harms there’s no clean way to undo. I see some justice on almost every side in these territorial conflicts, right along with disgust at the cruelties and small-time genocides committed by almost every side. Undoing some of those divisions–divisions which were unjust to inflict–might unleash more harm than leaving them in place. When you do that, the conflict festers. Some day someone has to pay the bill. All I can think of is to try not to make things worse and support local movements that might make things better eventually.

      But I have a strong feeling some of the bill may be coming due in my lifetime.

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