Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What is Armistice Day? a.k.a Veterans Day?

Colonel Thomas Gowenlock, recipient of the Distinguished Service Metal, served as an intelligence officer in the American Expeditionary Forces, First Division. (1) He was on the front line on November 11th, 1918 and wrote of his experience a few years later: 

"On the morning of November 11, I sat in my dugout in Le Gros Faux, which was again our division headquarters, talking to our Chief of Staff, Colonial John Greely, an d Lieutenant Colonel Paul Peaboyd, our G-1. A signal corps officer entered and handed us the following message:" (2)

Official Radio from Paris - 6:01 A.M., Nov. 11, 1918.
Marshal Foch to the Commander-in-Chief.
1. Hostilities will be stopped on the entire front beginning at 11 o'clock, November 11th (French hour).
2. The Allied troops will not go beyond the line reached at that hour on that date until further orders.

{signed}, Marshal Foch
5:45 A.M. (2)

Colonial Gowenlock continued: "My watch said nine o'clock. With only two hours to go, I drove over to the bank of the Meuse River to see the finish. The shelling was heavy and, as I walked down the road, it grew steadily worse. It seemed to me that every battery in the world was trying to burn up its guns. At last eleven o'clock came - but the firing continued. The men on both sides had decided to give each other all they had - their farewell to arms.......All over the world on November 11, 1918, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne, hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war. But at the front there was no celebration." (3)

Colonel Gowenlock speaks of the agreement to end World War I, known as the Great War.  The fighting (in theory) ended at 11:00 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month. 

On May 13, 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed legislation making November 11th the official date for Armistice Day.  In 1953 a movement took place within the United States to broaden out the meaning of Armistice Day to recognize all veterans.  On May 26, 1954, former General, then President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law a bill making November 11th an annual celebration for all veterans.  The day is now known as Veterans Day.

Today we pause to remember all veterans of past military wars.  We honor the thousands of men and women, who have dedicated their lives to serving our country at home and abroad.  We at DACC say thank you to all veterans for your leadership and service. 

(1) http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=17597 (accessed, November 10, 2014).
(2) Armstice - The End of World War I, 1918. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/armistice.htm (accessed, November 10, 2014).
(3) http://www.historywiz.com/alliedvictory.htm (accessed, November 10, 2014).

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