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Armistice Day


I think that some Americans tend to forget that Veteran's Day was originally, and is still in many parts of the world, remembered as Armistice Day. Perhaps some may even need a reminder that Armistice Day marks the armistice signed between the Allies of The Great War (WWI) and Germany at Compiegne, France at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. This official date marking the end of the war reflects the ceasefire on the Western Front. However, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire. (Wikipedia)

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. In connection with that, there have been a number of movies and documentaries reminding us of the horrors of that war. 

C. S. Lewis served and was wounded in that war. He arrived in the trenches of France on his nineteenth birthday, November 29, 1917. Here is part of his description of the war from his autobiography, Surprised by Joy....
The war itself has been so often described by those who saw more of it than I that I shall here say little about it. Until the great German attack came in the Spring we had a pretty quiet time. Even then they attacked not us but the Canadians on our right, merely "keeping us quiet" by pouring shells into our line about three a minute all day. I think it was that day I noticed how a greater terror overcomes a less: a mouse that I met (and a poor shivering mouse it was, as I was a poor shivering man) made no attempt to run from me. Through the winter, weariness and water were our chief enemies. I have gone to sleep marching and woken again and found myself marching still. One walked in the trenches in thigh gum boots with water above the knee; one remembers the icy stream welling up inside the boot when you punctured it on concealed barbed wire. Familiarity both with the very old and the very recent dead confirmed that view of corpses which had been formed the moment I saw my dead mother. I came to know and pity and reverence the ordinary man: particularly dear Sergeant Ayres, who was (I suppose) killed by the same shell that wounded me. I was a futile officer (they gave commissions too easily then), a puppet moved about by him, and he turned this ridiculous and painful relation into something beautiful, became to me almost like a father. But for the rest, the war--the frights, the cold, the smell of H.E., the horribly smashed men still moving like half-brushed beetles, the sitting or standing corpses, the landscape of sheer earth without a blade of grass, the boots worn day and night till they seemed to grow to your feet--all this shows rarely and faintly in memory. It is too cut off from the rest of my experience and often seems to have happened to someone else. It is even in a way unimportant. One imaginative moment seems now to matter more than the realities that followed. It was the first bullet I heard-- so far from me that it "whined" like a journalist's or a peace-time poet's bullet. At that moment there was something not exactly like fear, much less like indifference: a little quavering signal that said, "This is War. This is what Homer wrote about."
Let us never forget, and always give thanks for, the sacrifice of so many that allows us, even to this day, to live in freedom.

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