The 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month are united phrases young people were taught after the end of the War to End All Wars.
The War to End All Wars is generally attributed to H.G. Wells, the British writer of futurist visions, as a reference to World War I. Wells is credited with writing about The War That Will End War.
At first, it was a term used to accurately depict the magnitude and scope of World War I. Since it was first applied, it’s often been used sarcastically as a reminder that there have been plenty of other wars, including World War II, since World War I.
Ninety-nine years ago, the world was at war in a way that had not been experienced. Then at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 the Allied Forces, including the United States, signed an armistice ending the war with the Germans.
Hence, the holiday known as Armistice Day from 1919 until 1954 when President Eisenhower declared it would forevermore be known as Veterans Day and would honor all veterans.
Little did many realize that in the peace from that armistice or in the more complete and formal Treaty of Versailles signed in June 1919 that the seeds of what would be known as World War II were sown.
Without the monster Hitler, there would have been other wars just the same and plenty of veterans to be honored.
When 11 a.m. arrives Saturday, ceremonies in Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace will commence. That’s at the exact time the Armistice took effect in 1918, a moment that was long marked across our great land by two minutes of silence.
It’s hard to imagine that 99 years after The Great War, as it was initially known, our country would shut down for two minutes of silence for anything. It’s even harder to think about where we would be without those countless, selfless souls who put on a uniform and took to arms to protect our American way of life.
These are difficult times in our nation. We have a president elected a year ago Wednesday who is popular with fewer than four out of 10 Americans. We have professional football players taking a knee during the national anthem played before games to protest social conditions for African-Americans.
Another day seemingly brings another mass shooting. First, it was Las Vegas. Then, it was Edgewood. And then, it was Southerland Springs, Texas; all coming in less than the last five weeks.
No one knows where our country is headed, but one thing that’s been clear in recent years, as NFL players made clear during criticisms of their protests, is that Americans stand with the men and women of our military.
Saturday is an annual opportunity to pay our respects to the spirit of those who served and those who are still serving our country.