No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
Veterans Day began with Armistice Day, which marked the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I. The signing of the Armistice took place in a railroad car in the Forest of Compiègne in France. It took effect at 11 a.m. on November 11, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
One year later the first observance of Armistice Day took place in Buckingham Palace in London. The date was soon adopted by most Western nations as a day of remembrance for those who died in the “war to end all wars.” It became customary to observe a moment of silence at 11 a.m. on Armistice Day to recall the sacrifices of the combatants. The United States made it official in 1926.
World War I unfortunately did not end all wars and several wars later, in 1954, following World War II, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the Allied Troops in Europe during World War II, signed an act of Congress changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day, a day to honor all veterans of all wars. It honors those who gave their lives in all wars and all those who served in the armed forces who, by their military service, indicated a willingness to lay down their lives for their country.
As Catholic Christians we should pray for our deceased heroes and those still suffering from physical and mental wounds. It is also very important that we offer prayers for the fulfillment of the hope of Blessed Pope Paul VI who, in speaking before the United Nations General Assembly in 1972, called for “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”
I pray that God bless all of our heroic veterans and their families and that peace in the world can become a reality.
Image credit: Herald Post on Flickr https://flic.kr/p/5CWz4J