- Watchlord WIS
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Between the crosses, row on row
That mark the place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Love, and were loved and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae, May 1915
The guns of August, 1914 fell silent on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 as an Armistice was declared that ended the First World War.
Before that fateful day in 1914, everyone thought that the very nature of the fearsome devices of modern warfare - the sheer ability to kill on a vast, inhuman scale - the mechanized engines of mass destruction brought about by the Industrial Revolution - the machine gun, tanks, dreadnought battleships, poison gas, submarines, airplanes, monster cannons - would prevent them from actually being used by civilized nations against one another.
But they were wrong.
In retrospect, we must admire the desperate hope and ultimately, the naivete' of those who named that epic conflict "The War to end War". Some actually imagined that the horrors of that war, the millions of dead, the wreck of nations, would so shock the spirit of humanity that thereafter war would be unthinkable.
They were wrong as well.
So, finally, it is to the courage of those - then and now, - who, at the failure of diplomacy or a tyrant's dream of empire, took up arms to fight against that tyranny, fought to end war, fought to protect home and family, or fought simply because their country called, that this day is dedicated.
Remember the silence of that 11th hour of the 11th day of November 1918 and honor American veterans today, at least - if on no other - as they honored you with their service and their lives.