Armistice Day/ Veteran’s Day

November 11th is Armistice Day. Armistice Day is held annually in remembrance of the sacrifices made by all the brave men and women who joined the Armed Services, Air Force and Royal Navy and who who fought and died during World War I and II, to protect the freedoms which today, we take for granted. The Date; the 11th day of the 11th Month at the 11th hour is also significant as Peace was finally declared following World War I at 11:00, November 11 1918 after Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car in the forest of Compiègne which went into effect at 11 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 (“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”), and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender. The Germans were responding to the policies proposed by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points of January 1918. The actual terms, largely written by French Marshal and Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies Ferdinand Foch, included the cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of German troops to behind their own borders, the preservation of infrastructure, the exchange of prisoners, a promise of reparations, the disposition of German warships and submarines, and conditions for prolonging or terminating the armistice. Although the armistice ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles.

To mark the occasion Church Services are also held worldwide on Remembrance Sunday and two minutes silence takes place at 11:00 am to honour the fallen. It is only when you visit the cemeteries and battlefields that it possible to comprehend the sheer scale of the loss of life and to understand the futility & horrors of war. It’s also a really sobering experience to see haunting images of the landscape, which even today still bears witness to the tragic events which happened during World War I and II.

Armistice Day (which overlaps with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day) commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. While this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the ceasefire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire. The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. An exception is Italy, where the end of the war is commemorated on 4 November, the day of the Armistice of Villa Giusti.After World War II, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Armistice Day remains an official holiday in France and Belgium. Armistice day was declared a holiday because President Wilson felt it was necessary to leave a day to celebrate the end of warsIn many parts of the world, people observe two consecutive minutes moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. local time as a sign of respect in the first minute for the roughly 20 million people who died in the war, and in the second minute dedicated to the living, generally understood to be wives, children and families left behind but deeply affected by the conflict.

This gesture of respect was suggested by Edward George Honey in a letter to a British newspaper, although Wellesley Tudor Pole had established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917. From the outset, many veterans in many countries have also used silence to pay homage to departed comrades. The toast of “Fallen” or “Absent Comrades” has always been honoured in silence at New Zealand veteran functions, while the news of a member’s death has similarly been observed in silence at meetings. Similar ceremonies developed in other countries during the inter-war period. In South Africa, for example, the Memorable Order of Tin Hats had by the late 1920s developed a ceremony whereby the toast of “Fallen Comrades” was observed not only in silence but darkness, all except for the “Light of Remembrance”, with the ceremony ending with the Order’s anthem “Old Soldiers Never Die”. In Australia, meanwhile, the South Australian State Branch of the Returned Sailors & Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia similarly developed during the interwar period a simple ceremony of silence for departed comrades at 9 p.m., presumably to coincide with the traditional 11 a.m. time for Armistice ceremonies taking place in Europe (due to the ten-hour time difference between Eastern Australia and Europe)

In the United Kingdom, beginning in 1939, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to 11 November in order not to interfere with wartime production should 11 November fall on a weekday. After the end of World War II, most Armistice Day events were moved to the nearest Sunday and began to commemorate both World Wars. The change was made in many Commonwealth countries, as well as the United Kingdom, and the new commemoration was named Remembrance Sunday or Remembrance Day. Both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are now commemorated formally in the UK. In recent years Armistice Day has become increasingly recognised, and many people now attend the 11am ceremony at the Cenotaph in London – an event organised by The Western Front Association, a UK charity dedicated to perpetuating the memory of those who served in the First World War.

VETERANS DAY

Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans; that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, a U.S. public holiday in May; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service. It is also not to be confused with Armed Forces Day, a minor U.S. remembrance that also occurs in May, which specifically honors those currently serving in the U.S. military.

Because it is a federal holiday, some American workers and many students have Veterans Day off from work or school. When Veterans Day falls on a Saturday then either Saturday or the preceding Friday may be designated as the holiday, whereas if it falls on a Sunday it is typically observed on the following Monday. When it falls on weekend many private companies offer it as a floating holiday where employee can choose some other day. A Society for Human Resource Management poll in 2010 found that 21 percent of employers planned to observe the holiday in 2011.

Non-essential federal government offices are closed. No mail is delivered. All federal workers are paid for the holiday; those who are required to work on the holiday sometimes receive holiday pay for that day in addition to their wages. In his Armistice Day address to Congress, Wilson was sensitive to the psychological toll of the lean War years: “Hunger does not breed reform; it breeds madness,” he remarked As Veterans Day and the birthday of the United States Marine Corps (November 10, 1775) are only one day apart, that branch of the Armed Forces customarily observes both occasions as a 96-hour liberty period. Election Day is a regular working day, while Veterans Day, which typically falls the following week, is a federal holiday. The National Commission on Federal Election Reform called for the holidays to be merged, so citizens can have a day off to vote. They state this as a way to honor voting by exercising democratic rights.

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