293 “Veterans Day” 2019

By Hetty Gray

# 293 “Veterans Day”

First of all, to all my readers who served this country, my highest praise and respect. This is your day and you deserve the recognition. For you other readers, as you go about your day, be mindful of those whom we honor.

The Armistice signed November 11,1918, at Le Francport near Compiègne that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany. Previous armistices had been agreed with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

It has long been called “The War to End All Wars,” but sadly that designation is incorrect. One cannot calculate the profound impact that World War I had on the entire world. Losses were felt across Europe and the United States. Markers stands in villages across France to honor those who died.

According to the Robert Schuman Center, the total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I, was around 40 million. There were 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. The total number of deaths includes 9.7 million military personnel and about 10 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 5.7 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4 million.

Classification of casualty statistics were prepared as follows:
Estimates of casualty numbers for World War I vary to a great extent
Military casualty statistics listed here include combat related deaths as well as military deaths caused by accidents, disease and deaths while prisoners of war. Most of the casualties during WWI are due to war related famine and disease. Civilian deaths due to the Spanish flu have been excluded from these figures, whenever possible. Moreover, civilian deaths include the Armenian Genocide.

Those who wear the uniform today honor the lives lost in that conflict. Number eleven is paramount to the Armistice date. I often wonder if the plan to sign those papers at Eleven O’clock on the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month heralded to the old schism of being “The Eleventh Hour.”

One explanation dates back to the 17th century, although the term has been well known since the 19th century. One explanation is Biblical. The eleventh hour is an allusion to the parable of the laborers found in Matthew 20: 1-16, in which those workers hired at the eleventh hour of a twelve-hour working day were paid the same amount as those who began in the first hour. The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives this explanation: the latest possible time before it is too late. While neither of these descriptions are apt when applied to the Armistice, perhaps this thought will make it a bit clearer.

Had World War I not ended, it might have destroyed the entire continent of Europe. Any population can suffer some loss in war, but when lives lost ramp up into the millions, the consequences are devastating.

Those “doughboys” who fought in the trenches, died in the onslaught of bullets, suffered in awful weather conditions, and fell victim to rampant disease endured more than we can imagine.

In truth, one can describe the other major wars since that time in similar terms, although the loss of life has been far less. The men who go forth to defend freedom — ours and that of far-flung populations around the globe — deserve our respect.

Today is the day set aside for our veterans. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid. We are each better off for their service. When you see a hat for any branch of the armed services, take a moment to thank the man or woman proudly wearing it. They are our heroes.

Teach the youngsters to respect those who serve in the U. S. Army, U. S. Air Force, U. S. Marines, U. S. Coast Guard, and U. S. Merchant Marine. They stand for us. Our children should stand for them.

Again, thank you, veterans. We, and the world, are better for your service.

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