The Day that Changed the World

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Today is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice. I am sure all of you know that already, and you have probably marked the occasion either privately or at a public service, no matter which country, ethnicity, religion or creed you may belong to.  Both Roddy and I feel it is a day that celebrates peace more than victory, a day on which the whole world should remember the cessation of the immense and dreadful hostilities that ended or scarred the lives of so many, over one hundred years ago.

Roddy and I had grandparents who served in that terrible war, and we both had parents who served in that all-encompassing second war, the one that still resonates more, perhaps, with most of us. And of course, amongst all of you there will be some who have children or perhaps even grandchildren who serve today, who protect and hold dear the fragile peace that has meant that so many of our generation have never had to serve our countries in battle. All of them need to be thought of and thanked on this day, for there should be no barriers in remembrance.

For this reason, Armistice Day has always held a dear place on my calendar, for it is a day that also serves as a reinforcement of beliefs and ideals – that peace should be the only truth, and a truth that every country should strive to attain. For the millions of dead and wounded from both world wars, Armistice day is a shrine to both them, and their affected families, for whom no amount of gratitude is ever enough, and where a candle of hope should forever burn so that those dark times can be averted in the future. 

Today, the bells across France seemed to ring for longer than ever, as towns and villages stood still in respect, a scene repeated across Europe and beyond. It is the most powerful of days, but also the most poignant, for no one now survives who fought in those terrible times. It needs no saying that we must continue to respect this date for as long as the world exists – for I am certain it is not just my fervent wish that there will never be another Armistice day again. Above all, today is a day to hold our children close, and make them understand, so a new generation never repeats the mistakes of the old.P7830131 copy

“When you go Home, tell them of us and say,  

For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today”

John Maxwell Edmunds

1916

34 thoughts on “The Day that Changed the World

  • Very well put. We stood alone at a memorial in Fréjus at 11am then found a big gathering outside the cathedral in Saint Raphaël still going on at midday. Lots to remember and be thankful for.

    • I could not agree more. A very special day for so many people. I feel we are losing the younger generations’ interest though, little bit by little bit, which is only typical of human nature. No one pays attention to the older days which were once so important as well – Trafalgar and Waterloo, for example. Certainly the navy and some regiments in the army do, but not so the public. In 200 years we will undoubtedly (and unfortunately) be remembering another day. All I can hope that it is for the right reasons, that the world saw the defeat of wrong, and the triumph of right.

  • I don’t want to sound political but I wish Mr Trump could read this. You have said what so many of us would like to have said but are not as articulate as you. You have spoken from your heart and I felt it deeply. Thank you!

  • What a poignant and poetic post!! Your photographs accentuate the written word!
    My memories return to a poem memorized in middle school. Here is an excerpt from John McCrae’s “IN FLANDERS FIELD” “We are the dead,,,,
    Short days ago we lived felt dawn and saw sunset’s glow
    Now we lie in Flanders Field”

    • How poignant is that, Robert? I have not seen that before, but do dip into my battered copy of Wilfred Owen this time each year. Deep dark thoughts on all sides, put to paper, often in the ‘field’. I find some of the poems difficult to read, sometimes. It must have been a truly terrifying time, especially for the infantry.

  • An apt reminder so we never forget the bravery and courage of these great soldiers. We can continue enjoy peace and freedom. Never to be taken for grantedand spare a thought for victims of current wars

  • A very thoughtful and also a proud message….
    “for you tomorrow we gave our today”…..what a huge progress and it let me ask “what are we doing that we can give
    a peaceful and happy tomorrow to the future generations”? Unfortunately we turn the clock back again

  • In America, today is Veteran’s Day, a day of thanks for those who served and are still serving. We honor our dead on Memorial Day, but I like to remember all of them on both days. 🙂 WWI isn’t as well-remembered in the US, I think, because we didn’t get into it as early as the rest of the Allies. I like your POV and Armistice Day and I hope and pray, too, that we never need another such day. I’m also confident that all people, regardless of party affiliation, remember and honor the day and those whom we remember and honor on both these days.

    jant

    • Janet – thank you for your comment and support, and I say thank you to you and your countrymen too, for without them, and the enormous support of the Russians, the world would be a different place today, for sure.

  • Today, President Trump honored the sacrifice of the 1500 Americans who are buried at Suresnes, France and he mentioned the amount of soldiers and civilians who gave their lives in WW1. Too many died. And prayers were said at that ceremony for Peace.

    We should all understand that all the countries who fought in that war came together to defeat evil. It may seem that Americans do not remember WW1, but we do. And we are proud that we could help save our friends in Europe from this evil.

    And all of our Presidents have felt the weight of their burden to not only protect America but to protect the world or we would not keep troops around the world.
    We, all, stay safe in our homes at night because of the soldiers who protect us.
    May Peace be with you.

    • Patricia, I always think of WW1 more as a ghastly waste, rather than a fight against evil (which WW2 most certainly was). I think WW1 was more the death rattle of ancient European empires, a war like most European wars but with more combatants, nations and dreadful weapons than ever before – an inferno into which American forces, and many others, plunged headlong to win the upper hand. It was all the more frightening that such an inherently unstable war was almost inevitable once the ArchDuke Ferdinand was assassinated. Times were very different then, and to think the Germans and British thought it would be over by Christmas…..

    • Kathleene, I’d rather wish we never had to celebrate anything, and I never had to write about it, to be truthful. I wonder if the world is a safer place for those wars?? Sorry for the late reply XXX

  • A beautiful post. Thank you. I highly recommend “The Last of the Doughboys” by Richard Rubin. He interviewed the last surviving Amereican veterans of the first World War.

  • I couldn’t agree more Susan. I have learnt so much this past week or so, with the programmes on television, those old soldiers telling of their horrendous experiences, in both wars. It is very humbling. I really wish I could feel confident that there are no more people out there who have a distorted view of our world and how we should live in it, but sadly, they still exist. All we can do is as you say, live our lives well, with kindness and tolerance towards others and instil this in our children who are our future. x

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