Veterans Day 2005
At the llth hour of the llth day of the llth month, of the Year of Our Lord 1918, after more than four years of continuous warfare, the guns fell silent all along the Western Front. From Belgium to the Swiss border, those who survived gave thanks for the miracle that they had lived to hear...the sound of silence.
And millions of Americans back home rejoiced in the knowledge that countless numbers of their countrymen would not fall in battle as had their British, French, and Belgian brothers-in-arms.
But Americans did make the ultimate sacrifice on the Western Front, some 116,516 of them in what the survivors would soon call The War To End All Wars and which we call World War I.
This poem, "In Flanders Fields," gave voice to the universal desire not to repeat the senseless slaughter that was trench-warfare by honoring the dead on each anniversary of the day the shooting war ended:
But the War To End All Wars wasn't, and the 11th of November, which we Americans used to call Armistice Day, is now observed as Veterans Day in honor of all of America's men and women who have worn the uniform and done their duty to God and Country. Even now, they stand ready to defend our nation, our homes, our families, and our very way of life.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
It is to them that we give our heartfelt gratitude.
Learn about 104-year-old Lloyd Brown, one of the last living American veterans of World War I, here, a video interview, here, and our Memorial Day post featuring Mr. Brown, there. And you can read the latest CNN interview with Brown, who still lives by himself, in his own home, right here.
See President Bush's proclamation in honor of Veterans Day here.