History is Not Over
How Did Armistice Day and Veteran's Day Become One?
November 12, 2018
100 years ago today (at 11 AM on 11/11/1918) the Armistice was declared, ending World War I. There was joy in the streets of Paris. One American serviceman described how French girls were coming up to him and kissing him. He described the day as “the happiest in my life.” We don’t know whether his joy arose from the fact that war was finally over, or whether it was a result of all that kissing.
It was called “The War to End All Wars.” All over the world, but especially in the thirty-two nations that were involved in the hostilities, Armistice Day was celebrated with the hope that after the horrors of this worldwide war, mankind would come to its senses and ban war forever. It was not to be.
Although the World War was over, within a few years multiple regional wars raged. And almost immediately after the end of World War I, the seeds that would grow into World War II were planted. The Treaty of Versailles, which ended the war in 1919, placed punishing terms on Germany which eventually destabilized Europe and led to WWII.
We tend to think of history as something that happened in the past. But today’s current events are tomorrow’s history. As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, we need to consider the lessons from that war, from WWII, and the hundreds of other wars of the last century. As we do so we must recognize that the seeds of World War III have already been planted, and that evil people are watering and nurturing those seeds in the hope that they will soon blossom.
Unfortunately, warfighting changed dramatically as a result of WWI. We learned many new and more destructive ways of killing one another. A new breed of weapons including Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s), submarines, armored tanks, and air attacks changed modern warfare forever.
WWII increased the world’s ability to kill and maim. Fragmentation grenades, machine guns, new and deadlier rifles, and rocket launchers were used to great effect by infantry troops. New weapons platforms included the aircraft carrier and the B-17 Flying Fortress which carried 4,000 pounds of explosives and brandished nine machine guns. Radar, which had been developed just prior to the War, was used in combat for the first time by the British. And, of course, the atom bomb was used to end WWII.
Since then, man has used his creativity to advance weaponry to levels unimaginable in either of the World Wars. WWIII, should it come, could make use of WMD’s that will make the WMD’s of the First and Second World Wars look mild by comparison. In WWI the major WMD’s were mustard gas and chlorine gas. In WWII the Germans used poison gas to murder one million Jews in concentration camps. They had also developed nerve agents such as Sarin but did not deploy them on the battlefield.
Today’s WMDs fall into three main categories: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical. In general, we think of nuclear devices as being deployed by governments via aircraft or missiles due to their size and cost. And those, should they ever be used in war again, are dramatically more powerful than the two dropped on Japan in WWII. But battlefield nukes, also known as suitcase nukes, can be carried by two men (they’re more the size of a trunk than a suitcase) and easily smuggled. But Chemical and Biological agents are in many ways a greater danger than Nuclear devices because they can be easily hidden and deployed by one person.
So, what have we learned from two World Wars? Not much, it seems, except how to have bigger and more destructive wars in the future. We have done the opposite of what the peace activist folk song declared: “I ain’t gonna study war no more.”
Well, obviously, we need to form a huge international organization dedicated to peace. Oh, wait, we already did that – twice. The League of Nations failed miserably. It was replaced with the United Nations, which did some good work initially. But it has devolved into a boondoggle of inefficiency and corruption (much like Broward County, Florida – see my article in this issue of Conservative Truth).
Trillions of dollars – mostly from the U.S. – have been spent on this organization which mostly talks and actually does little. It promotes nations that abuse their citizens’ human rights and puts them on the Human Rights Commission. It spends so much time condemning the U.S. and Israel that our U.N. Ambassador has to spend much of her time vetoing their ridiculous declarations. In short, it is largely useless, and in many cases contributes to instability and regional wars by its venality and ineptitude.
Well, if international organizations don’t work, what about treaties? Can’t we negotiate the world into peace? There are literally thousands of treaties in existence today between nations – both bilateral agreements and multinational agreements. Many are broken before the ink is dry on the signatures. Most of the rest fail due to those old favorites – corruption and incompetence.
OK, mutual defense treaties must be the answer, then. These have been the most effective deterrents to war. In particular, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has made many nations think twice about attacking a member state. But it has many problems. NATO members have become complacent and have refused to pay what they promised as a condition of membership. So the U.S. has been stuck with the bill, as has been the case with every international organization we have joined.
Also, many nations that want to join NATO are refused admittance because NATO is afraid of angering Russia. So when Russia decided to invade Ukraine, a sovereign nation that had tried for years to join NATO, the organization refused to intervene – because Ukraine was not a member. That meant that the U.S. was the only entity that could stop Russia from stealing a huge part of Ukraine known as Crimea. We had a coward as president at the time, so the U.S. did nothing. Ukraine didn’t ask for U.S. troops to risk their lives. They just asked us for help with small weapons so they could defend themselves. Obama sent blankets.
Then is there any hope for Planet Earth? Are we destined to fight each other until every human is dead? Yes, there is; and no, we aren’t.
We need to call on the best negotiator in the universe – and I’m not talking about Donald Trump. We need to get the Prince of Peace involved in the affairs of man. Of course, He is already involved in many of our lives. But until men and nations cry out to Jesus, and ask Him to be Lord of their lives and nations, I see no hope for the earth.
II Chronicles 7:14 states, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
This means that the most effective tool for world peace is world evangelism. God didn’t say He would respond to the prayers of nations. He said he would respond to the prayers of “His people.” We need to spread the gospel so that the people of the nations are “His people.” So that when they humble themselves and pray, He will forgive their sins and heal their lands. That’s the only way it will happen.
In case you’re interested: HOW DID ARMISTICE DAY BECOME VETERAN’S DAY?
In this article, we have mainly discussed Armistice Day on this Veteran’s Day. You may be interested in how Armistice Day and Veteran’s day became one.
In 1953, a shoe store owner named Al King started a campaign asking that Armistice Day celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. He suggested renaming it “All” Veterans Day.
Al's idea was taken up by his local Chamber of Commerce and then his congressman, who helped push a bill for the holiday through Congress. In 1954 President Eisenhower signed a bill that officially renamed Armistice Day as Veteran’s Day. It is celebrated on November 11 – the original date of Armistice Day.
Congress likes all our holidays to be celebrated on Mondays, so they get another day off. So from 1968 to 1975, Veteran’s Day was observed on the fourth Monday in October based on the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. But some days are so important that you can’t change their observance for convenience. Can you imagine celebrating Christmas on any day other than December 25th? Armistice Day occurred on November 11th. To honor the almost 20 million people who died in WWI, and the many millions of our veterans who have died in wars since, I am glad that in 1975 President Gerald Ford signed a law that moved the holiday back to November 11.
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