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The 11th

The 11th hour is a term that's become part of the English language. Born of war, it has come to mean a deal struck at the last minute. Its origin is the dubious end of World War I, known before World War II as The Great War, a negotiated armistice that took effect at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918, though it had been agreed to many hours prior to that.

Because of the lapse between the signing of the cease fire agreement and the actual cease fire, deadly military operations continued, even as it was known to those giving and taking orders that the operations were pointless.

It seems interest in the first world war has been on the upswing in recent years, in no small part because its centennial is a few years away.

Possibly, that's why this weekend's observance in Bel Air of Veterans Day, which has long since supplanted Armistice Day as the holiday observed Nov. 11, is going to be such a big deal.

Or maybe it's because of another dubious aspect of World War I: It was referred to for a time as The War to End All Wars because of the violence and suffering it inflicted. Not only was it not the last war, our nation is at war even now, mired in the longest military conflict in U.S. history. Armistice Day became obsolete and was replaced by Veterans Day when it became clear there would be veterans of military conflict to be honored for quite some time after the end of the war that had to be re-named once World War II erupted.

The harsh reality is there have been many generations of war veterans, to all of whom the rest of us owe a great deal. When the defense of the nation is at stake, they answer the call to duty and protect our nation and national interests. Agree or not with the policies that put those who serve in harm's way, it's good to know there are folks we can depend on to defend the nation at all costs.

This weekend's extended Veterans Day observances in Bel Air are a fine way to show appreciation for the veterans among us, as well as to the families of those who have served and are no longer among us.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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