Peace Activism on November 11th
What the Day Means and Where It Came From
November 11, 2021, is Remembrance /Armistice Day 104 — which is 103 years since World War I was ended in Europe (while it continued for weeks in Africa) at the scheduled moment of 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 (with an extra 11,000 people dead, wounded, or missing after the decision to end the war had been reached early in the morning — we might add “for no reason,” except that it would imply the rest of the war was for some reason).
In many parts of the world, principally but not exclusively in British Commonwealth nations, this day is called Remembrance Day and should be a day of mourning the dead and working to abolish war so as not to create any more war dead. But the day is being militarized, and a strange alchemy cooked up by the weapons companies is using the day to tell people that unless they support killing more men, women, and children in war they will dishonor those already killed.
For decades in the United States, as elsewhere, this day was called Armistice Day, and was identified as a holiday of peace, including by the U.S. government. It was a day of sad remembrance and joyful ending of war, and of a commitment to preventing war in the future. The holiday’s name was changed in the United States after the U.S. war on Korea to “Veterans Day,” a largely pro-war holiday on which some U.S. cities forbid Veterans For Peace groups from marching in their parades, because the day has become understood as a day to praise war — in contrast to how it began.
We seek to make Armistice / Remembrance Day a day to mourn all victims of war and advocate for the ending of all war.
White Poppies and Sky Blue Scarves
Sky blue scarves were first worn by peace activists in Afghanistan. They represent our collective wish as a human family to live without wars, to share our resources, and to take care of our earth under the same blue sky. Make your own or get them here.
Henry Nicholas John Gunther
The story from the first Armistice Day of the last soldier killed in Europe in the last major war in the world in which most of the people killed were soldiers highlights the stupidity of war. Henry Nicholas John Gunther had been born in Baltimore, Maryland, to parents who had immigrated from Germany. In September 1917 he had been drafted to help kill Germans. When he had written home from Europe to describe how horrible the war was and to encourage others to avoid being drafted, he had been demoted (and his letter censored). After that, he had told his buddies that he would prove himself. As the deadline of 11:00 a.m. approached on that final day in November, Henry got up, against orders, and bravely charged with his bayonet toward two German machine guns. The Germans were aware of the Armistice and tried to wave him off. He kept approaching and shooting. When he got close, a short burst of machine gun fire ended his life at 10:59 a.m. Henry was given his rank back, but not his life.
All About Armistice / Remembrance Day
Debunking myths with history.
We will gather in this solemn manner not to pay homage to the weapons of destruction but to renew our commitment to work for an end to all wars and to foster justice and peace, at home and abroad.
Until 1954 November 11th was set aside to celebrate and strive for peace as a holiday called Armistice Day, remembering the end of WWI.
Collingwood’s local Peace group, Pivot2Peace, has chosen a unique way to commemorate Remembrance Day on Nov 11th.
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