Dick Bernard: The 98th Armistice Day (aka Veterans Day #62)

November 11, 11 a.m., 2016
This is about Armistice Day, though my free cup of coffee today comes compliments of Veterans Day by virtue of U.S. Army duty 1962-63. I’ll wear my dog tags today, but mostly think about the Veterans for Peace Bell Ringing at 11 a.m. which I will have to miss for the first time in many years.
Years ago my mother remembered the first Armistice Day from the perspective of a nine year old on the family farm about 5 miles “as the crow flies” from tiny Grand Rapids ND.
Mom’s sister, my Aunt Florence, “was born the year World War I ended [Nov. 3, 1918]. The hired girl and I were out in the snow chasing chickens into the coop so they wouldn’t freeze when there was a great long train whistle from the Grand Rapids railroad track. In the house there was a long, long telephone ringing to signify the end of World War I.”
WWI was a very nasty war, including for the U.S. which entered only for the final year. One of Grandpa’s hired men was killed in the War. The World War I flu, aka Spanish Flu, raged across the U.S. 1918-20. Mom and grandma got it, but everyone in the family survived…this was not always true.
WWI was supposed to be “the war to end all war”.
Of course, “the war to end all war” only spawned an even worse war, World War II.
I am moved to write about this today because recently I was helping my friend, Annelee, edit her third book. Annelee has written about growing up in Nazi Germany, and her third book, tentatively titled, “And That is That”, is intended to sum up her 90 years, the first 18 of these growing up in what was supposed to become the “1000 year Reich” of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler.
For a few short years the Hitler experiment seemed to work, particularly for those who joined the Nazis (Whose ranks did not include Annelee’s parents). But dreams died hard.
In a draft of her chapter entitled “War”, Annelee wrote “I believed then that WWII would be the war that ended all wars.” She was born in 1926, and like every other German, suffered immensely the ultimate consequences of the Third Reich collapse which was obvious to all beginning in 1943.
Hitler’s avenging the humiliation of Germany at the end of WWI had failed.
We never seem to learn.
There have been numerous wars since WWII, of course, all of them justified by someone or other, none of them doing anything other than fueling the next war.
War is very good for business.
Now we are entering the era of “Make America Great Again”. “At whose expense?”, I wonder….
It was a good slogan, lots of sales of hats and stuff, but I doubt anyone has any idea what it will really mean, if anything.
These days there are almost no military people – maybe one in a hundred Americans actually go into the service. Cynically, maybe another bigger war will “Make America Great Again”?
As I end this piece, I’ll simply reprint something I did back in March about the human cost of war, just to America, through its involvement in Wars. And our human cost has been very low compared with other societies around the world.
Let’s make “Armistice Day” mean something more than a free cup of coffee for someone with a set of dog tags. Why not rename Veterans Day to Armistice Day, as it began. Veterans everywhere are honored on Armistice Day. And give peace a chance.
(click to enlarge)
Human Cost of War001
The history of American war as seen by the American Legion magazine May, 2015: America at War001. We are a nation addicted to war, I think.

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