My dear grandfather’s birthday was November 11th, 1892, and he was always very proud that WWI, that war to end all wars, ended on his 26th birthday. He was the sole support of his mother, wife and baby daughter (my mother) so he did not serve in the military, but his brother Axel did. I grew up knowing this, part of my sense of who I am.
I was adopted as a child and my first adopted father died when I was in Kindergarten and when I was seven my mother remarried. So I have five parents, and have been able to find out a lot of information about four of them. I have two ancestors who fought in the the American Revolution, one who fought in the War of 1812, on who fought in the Civil War, and two fathers who served in WWII, one as a flight instructor and one as a dentist in the Air Force. I am not in favor of war, but sometimes it seems there is little choice. I honor all my military ancestors even as I hope that someday peace will prevail.
We used to call the two holidays that were days of remembrance for our soldiers “Decoration Day” and “Armistice Day”, and now we call them “Memorial Day” and “Veteran’s Day”, but the intent is unchanged, to remember and honor those who have fought and often died protecting our country.
We had to memorize Major John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” when I was in school and it is a good one to remember today. Major McCrae wrote this when a friend died in 1914, but he himself did not live to see that first Armistice Day. You may read more about him here:
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.