Monday, 10 November 2014

In just a few hours it will be Veterans Day in the United States,

Armistice Day.
The 11th hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the time the guns were to fall silent, the end of the first world war. 
Who, I wonder, was shooting on that morning, and why? what did they hope to achieve?  A last kill before shooting season ends?

 Anyway, it was over, it marked the end of "The War to End All Wars",  at the end of which, humans kept on developing weapons and seeking wars in which to use them.

Nonetheless, we hold remembrances, we Brits wave our poppies, Americans their flags. Our neighbourhood is full of flags, very patriotic, these Americans. Veterans day is a holiday, and  retired service personnel will wear their medals, badges, uniform caps with pride, strangers will thank them for serving.  It's not all about the dead, the living are remembered here too.

The school does a yearly project, where each pupil is set to meet and interview a veteran of the forces, to photograph and make a poster featuring that person, on the back is the interview, dates served, nature of service etc. My step-son interviewed a man who's become a friend of mine , Troy is one of a group of friends who meet once a week  over lunch. They all have stories. I thought I'd post here some pictures I took outside the school.

So many are represented, from the humblest rank to the dizzying heights of gold braid, veterans from pre WWII to the present day. Some of these kids have dads, uncles, brothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, in the military, in harm's way, serving, prepared to give their lives if need be.
Whether or not I believe in the wars they are sent to fight, I have the greatest respect for them. The old guys I have lunch with on a thursday have so many stories, war cold and hot. And of tragedies too. 

Tomorrow, they are saluted. But here, as in Britain, there's another reality, of the veterans who failed to reintegrate, the PTSD, the alcoholics, the guys who hold up cardboard signs "Ex soldier, Hungry, Homeless", and I, like the other drivers, check my door is locked, try not to meet the gaze... And drive on by.


  1. Armistice Day...the 11th hour of the 11th month...was at the end of World War 1 not the Second World War.

    I don't mean to sound pedantic...but as the 11th November is my birthday, and I was born on the 11th hour as well...(although not in 1915)'s a day I always remember! When I was a little kid I thought the rest of the kids in my class stood for a minutes silence for me...and then I learned otherwise! (Just kidding...Armistice/Remembrance Day is always revered by me, as is our Anzac Day which always falls on April, 25th).

    Lest We Forget....all our brave men and women of the Forces...past, present...and, unfortunately...future....

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  3. Lee, I'm grateful to you for catching my error, believe me, I do know which it was, must have had the brain on multiple tracks, I'll go back and correct it. My proofreader caught the typos, but missed that!
    Happy birthday for the 11th, I trust you raised a glass to distant friends?
    Why is ANZAC day in April? I'll google it....
    My birthday is coming up on the 14th, (I arranged to have it the same day every year) also not in 1915........ Which I'm assuming is YOUR typo (cackles with glee, gets frowned at by the Red Dirt Girl...).... because, as we know, the armistice was in November 1918. Were you thinking '45?

    1. Behave yourself, Soub! It is not a typo by me...but I am still older than respect your elders, laddie! :)

      No doubt by now you have Googled Anzac Day...and have gleaned all the information about it. It's a highly revered day here by the Aussies...and in New Zealand by the Kiwis.

      So you're a fellow Scorpio...Happy Birthday for the 14th. Enjoy your day. :) My late Nana was the 13th November; and my late mother-in-law...the 15th.

      I figured you must have had a brain-freeze re Armistice Day...but it was better I picked it up than Adullamite! *wink*

  4. Hmmm I missed something here!

    The reason war continued up till 11 am was two fold, one was the desire to ensure the enemy accepted the armistice and did not get any funny ideas. Most Brits had had enough and did their best to do their duty, although many did not know the armistice had been signed of course they were often moving forward in that time, and many ensured their men survived even not obeying orders properly. On occasions I read of those on both sides who warned the others to wait rather than advance.
    The second reason was stupidity. The Yanks launched a full scale attack on the night of the 10th just to grab some success and lost thousands of their own men. Disgraceful action which was condemned by the Congress committee but the paper was never released to protect the American generals, Brits and French on the whole, like the enemy, were happy to go home alive.

  5. Lee, You're right.....
    Adullamite, thanks for that information, it just sent me off to read about Pershing's attacks on the morning of the 11th. Major Charles P. Summerall's words to his men that morning " 'We are swinging the door by its hinges. It has got to move,' he told his subordinates as he ordered them to cross the Meuse River on the war's last day. 'Only by increasing the pressure can we bring about [the enemy's] defeat….Get into action and get across.' His parting shot was: 'I don't expect to see any of you again, but that doesn't matter. You have the honor of a definitive success–give yourself to that.' "

    "At sixteen minutes before 11, a runner caught up with the 313th's parent 157th Brigade to report that the armistice had been signed. Again, the message made no mention of what to do in the interim. Brigadier General William Nicholson, commanding the brigade, made his decision: 'There will be absolutely no let-up until 11:00 a.m.' More runners were dispatched to spread the word to the farthest advanced regiments, including Gunther's. The 313th now gathered below a ridge called the Côte Romagne. Two German machine gun squads manning a roadblock watched, disbelieving, as shapes began emerging from the fog. Gunther and Sergeant Powell dropped to the ground as bullets sang above their heads. The Germans then ceased firing, assuming that the Americans would have the good sense to stop with the end so near. Suddenly, Powell saw Gunther rise and begin loping toward the machine guns. He shouted for Gunther to stop. The machine gunners waved him back, but Gunther kept advancing. The enemy reluctantly fired a five-round burst. Gunther was struck in the left temple and died instantly. The time was 10:59 a.m. General Pershing's order of the day would later record Henry Gunther as the last American killed in the war.

    "'How many generals did you lose on that day?' Bland went on. 'None,' Conner replied. 'How many colonels did you lose on that day?' Conner: 'I do not know how many were lost.' 'How many lieutenant colonels did you lose on that day?' Conner: 'I do not know the details of any of that.' 'I am convinced,' Bland continued, 'that on November 11 there was not any officer of very high rank taking any chance of losing his own life….'


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