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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Nov 8, 2008

Tuesday, Nov. 11 marks the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day.

Armistice Day is the anniversary of the symbolic end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. It commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiegne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which began at 11 a.m. – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

While this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the ceasefire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire. It used to be called Veteran’s Day.

The date was a national holiday in many of allied nations to allow people to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. This day in Poland is national day (also a public holiday) called Polish Independence Day. After World War II, it was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Armistice Day is an official holiday in France. It is also an official holiday in Belgium, known also as the day of peace in the Flanders Fields.

One need look no further than the south lawn of Library Square to understand the significance of the World War I Armistice to the people of Estherville. In the center of the monument a doughboy stands with the names of those who fought so valiantly on both sides of him.

World War I was called “the war to end all wars” in its time. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Instead, it was the first modern war.

While Americans struggled during the Spanish-American War to find a rifle of adequate range, at least at the beginning, by World War I, they had perfected the 1903 Springfield. Unfortunately, the Germans had improved their weapons as well. World War I was the first war when so many men died on the battlefield at such a long range.

World War I also saw the first widespread use of automatic weapons and aircraft. It was also the first time that chemical weapons were used, and many Allied troops had their lungs permanently blistered and lived in agony for the rest of their lives.

Veterans Day, along with Memorial Day, has become a time to reflect on the sacrifices of our war dead and those living veterans whose sacrifices made our nation what it is today.

In many parts of the world people take a two-minute moment of silence at 11 a.m. as a sign of respect for the roughly eight million who died in the war.

So at 11 a.m. Tuesday, stop and reflect and think of those who made the supreme sacrifice. And if you know a veteran, thank him or her for that service without which we would not be free.