At 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 2011 there will be a collective moment of silence for the 93rd time around the world. Armistice Day, also known as Remembrance Day, was set aside by the British to pay tribute to all those who served and lost their lives in the Great War (1914-1918). The prelimiary truce, or armistice, called for a cease fire at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
In the United States, we honor those who served in the Great War and all subsequent wars on the eleventh day of the eleventh month and call it Veterans Day.
Songs and poems were written for the mourning of those who lost their lives in the Great War. The most familiar of those is “In Flanders Field” by John McCrae.
The oldest living American to serve in the Great War, Frank Buckles, passed away this year (d.2/27/11). He has been called Pershing’s Last Patriot and is buried near the infamous General John Pershing in Arlington Cemetery. Mr. Buckles served in Europe until 1920 helping return German prisoners of war.
Alexander F. Barnes, retired Marine, has penned an historical account of the American occupation after Armistice Day called In A Strange Land: The American Occupation of Germany, 1918-1923. Mr. Barnes explained to me that very little has been written about this chapter in our military history. He used official records, personal journals, and diaries to tell the story of young American soldiers like Mr. Buckles and their experiences while in the Rhineland.
The retired Marine sees many similarities between the occupancy and following withdrawal from a 1920’s Germany and today’s Iraq: “political unrest, black marketing, nation building, discord among allies, wholesale auction of government equipment, dramatic troop drawdown…”
Read about Mr. Barnes’ project as reported in the Ft. Lee Traveller.
Find In A Strange Land: The American Occupation of Germany, 1918-1923 on Amazon.com.
On November 11, 2011 take a moment to remember our fallen. And on every other day of the year make the effort to say “thank you” to soldiers you know or may meet as they return to us from the fields of war.