Armistice Day, known as Veterans Day here in the U.S.A., is held every year on the 11th of November. For you see it was at the 11th hour, the 11th day and 11th month that the Allies signed the peace with Germany ending the First World War.
General “Black Jack” Pershing was the man in charge of the proceedings and who spoke these immortal words: “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”
I know this is a detour from the usual topics in this column but I want take a few moments to honor all the veterans this week and thank them for their service to this nation. Without them and the glory of their deeds, we would be lost in a violent world.
From the Revolutionary War heroes to the men and women serving today across the globe, we owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid no matter how long we should live and remain a free nation.
The great sacrifices that each endured cannot be imagined by those of us who have never served in the armed forces and I think back on my grandfather who served in the First World War and the hardships he spoke about.
At the end of the War he was in officer candidate school in France but he had many close calls in the days previous to that assignment. Hunger, gas attacks by the Germans, illness, horrible conditions, bombings and the new machine guns used by both sides were a daily horror to the men who were in the trenches of the conflict.
For the first time in history the enemy had the ability to inflict mass casualties upon their opponents and the tally of dead and wounded was astounding.
In some of the campaigns upward of 2 million men would lose their lives in an epic struggle against an unrelenting German war machine. We cannot even imagine such losses as just under 12 percent of the men who served lost their lives. That would equate to 160,000 men and women of today’s armed forces if the same percentages applied.
There is not a day goes by that we are not reminded of the sacrifices that many people have made for us in days gone by, present day and will make in the future.
The pains of those losses often continue for these soldiers long after they return from active duty. Long nights with memories of terrible conditions haunt their dreams and steal the peace that they seek.
My grandfather spoke of the terrors that he witnessed and as a young man I sat in awe and wonder that anyone could even survive in such conditions. He is now gone from this earth. As I look at the photos of him in France, I wonder what made him volunteer to free a people he did not know and to leave hearth and home and face death so eagerly.
British author H.G. Wells first penned the phrase “A war to end all wars” as he and many others believed any further conflict with so many losses was thought impossible at the time.
Of course only some 20 years later the free world was once again called upon to liberate an oppressed Europe and Middle East and the dead and wounded in that great struggle were even more than the Big War as WWI is often called.
In closing, I want to say God Bless those who have gone before us and paved the way for us to live in a free America. Bless and be with those who serve wherever they may be and Godspeed to a safe arrival back home.
Kevin Kirkpatrick and his Yorkie, Cooper, fish, hunt, ATV or hike daily. His email is [email protected] Additional news can be found at www.troutrepublic.com or on Twitter at TroutRepublic.