November 11 is known as Veterans’ Day in America, Armistice Day in England, and Remembrance Day in Australia. All three holidays commemorate the end of World War I — the Great War — on November 11, 1918 and the sacrifices of soldiers in the later wars that have occurred since the War to End All Wars.
This BBC story reports on observations of the holiday across the globe and notes that there remains one surviving British veteran of World War I, who lives in a nursing home in Australia. He did not participate in any celebration of the holiday because, his family says, he opposes the glorification of war. His reaction is not surprising. Fighting in any war must be a wrenching, awful experience, but World War I, like the Civil War before it, was almost unimaginably bloody and horrible. Entire generations of British, French, German, and Russian men were mowed down by machine guns, blown apart by artillery, and impaled on barbed wire as they tried to attack fortified trench positions of the enemy over the desolate waste of No Man’s Land. Revisiting those painful scenes, even after the passage of 90 years, must be unbearable.
Today we remember those veterans who served, and fought, and sacrificed, and we thank those soldiers who currently serve and protect our nation.