Chamblee54

November 11

Posted in History, Holidays, Library of Congress, War by chamblee54 on November 11, 2017






Veteran’s Day is a bad day for a cynic. On the one hand, I do appreciate living in The United States. With all its flaws, I have had a good life here. The role that Veterans have played is to be honored. On the other hand, those who profit from wars often exploit Veterans for political mojo. Many of these people did not serve.

Veterans are often not treated well after they are through with their service. It is estimated that a quarter of the homeless are veterans. The services offered to wounded veterans returning from War are often lacking. These wounds are both physical and mental.

When I typed the second sentence, I thought of my great grandfather. He served with the Georgia State Troops in the War Between the States. I do prefer the USA to the CSA (or whatever would have happened). Yet, the Union army had to prevail over the various Confederate Armies for this to happen. Do I dishonor my great grandfather by saying I am happy the other side won?

Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day. This was the day, 90 years ago, when the War to End All Wars ended. World War I was a ghastly bloodbath, in which millions died. It created many of the problems that plague us today. And I would be willing to bet that not one person in ten thousand today knows what it was about. And yet, the men who fought in that conflict (I don’t think they had women soldiers then) deserve the same gratitude as those who fought in any other conflict.

The soldier…many of whom were drafted…doesn’t get to choose which war to fight in. The sacrifice of the World War II soldier was just as great as the Vietnam fighter, but the appreciation given was much greater. I grew up during Vietnam, and saw the national mood go from patriotic fight to dismayed resistance. By the time I was old enough to get drafted, the Paris accords had been signed. For better or worse, there went my chance.






Veterans day was originally Armistice Day. On November 11, 1918, at 11 am (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month) a cease fire went into effect for “The great war”. Officials of the major armies agreed to the ceasefire at 5 am (European time). There were an estimated 11,000 casualties in the last six hours of the war.

At 11:59 am, U.S. army private Henry Gunther became the last soldier to die in World War I.
“According to the Globe and Mail this is the story of the last soldier killed in WW1: On Nov.11, 1918, U.S. army private Henry Gunther stood up during a lull in the machine gun fire and charged the enemy. “The Germans stared in disbelief,” says the Daily Express. “They had been told that morning that the fighting was about to stop; in a few minutes they would stop firing and go home. So why was this American charging at them with his bayonet drawn? They shouted at him to stop and frantically tried to wave him back but… he hadn’t heard anything of the ceasefire.” A German gunner released a five-round burst and the soldier lay dead, at 10:59 a.m. In his recently published Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour, U.S. Military Historian Joseph Persico notes that Private Gunther had previously been a sergeant but was demoted after an Army censor read his letter to a friend back home, urging him to steer clear of the war at all costs. Gunther, who was in no-man’s land when the ceasefire news arrived, had been trying to prove himself worthy of his original rank.”
This is a repost. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.





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