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11/11 11:00

November 11, 2017

My daughters got up and posted flags around the neighborhood yesterday. They do it every holiday as a church service project. The problem is, yesterday was not a holiday. Sure, it was the day we observed a holiday, but the holiday is today: November 11.

It’s an official government holiday, meaning the post office was closed. And some people had the day off. But, my daughters are neither the post office, nor employers. It bothered me a little bit that they posted the flags yesterday. They could have just as easily posted them today, the date of the actual holiday.

November is one of the “birthday months” in our house. I have three kids with birthdays in the first week. Two of them are on the same day. Celebrating on their actual birthday is sometimes hard. I was travelling during one child’s birthday. They are teenagers now, but they still want dad at the party. We celebrated a few days later when I was home.

The twins will often pick different days than each other to celebrate their birthdays. It doesn’t hurt anything and it makes sure that each child has a day just for them that they don’t have to share with someone else.

Today’s holiday though, is different. In my mind. Veterans’ Day isn’t just a day to celebrate those who have served in the military. It also commemorates an important event. A significant event that happened on November 11 ninety-nine years ago at precisely 11:00 AM.

When the Armistice of Compiègne was signed it effectively ending the First World War. Except, at the time, they weren’t calling it the First World War, or WWI. They were calling it The Great War. But not with any degree of admiration. It was The War to End all Wars. The Great War was so terrible, so horrific, so devastating, that people believed (perhaps they only hoped) that it would be the end of war.

The war saw the introduction of weapons of mass destruction. The use of poison gas was so horrible, that civilized countries eventually decided they would avoid using it in future conflicts. WWI wasn’t the future. It was terrible. The war saw the weaponization of the airplane. At the beginning of the war, the planes were unarmed. The pilots from opposing sides were actually not trying to kill each other or even kill those on the ground. They were observers. Literally flying above the fray. And then someone brought a shotgun with him and soon, ‘dog fights’ entered the venacular. And those early pilots didn’t wear parachutes.

The war saw the evolution from cavalry to tanks. The charge of men on horses was replaced by the rumble of steel tracks moving mobile fortresses. Nearly all forms of killing are enhanced and improved during warfare. The War to End all Wars some more advances than most.

And it ended on “the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour.” So, while I enjoyed seeing the flags out yesterday, and I certainly want to show all respect to the military, my father, my brother and my daughter all having served or currently serving in the United States Army, Veterans Day is and always will be on that unique day notated by four ones.

Next year will mark 100 years since the world thought it had put war away forever, 11/11/1918. If only their optimism had been justified.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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