i am old enough to remember when November 11th was “Armistice Day”, not Veterans Day. It was a day to celebrate the end of a war; a war so vast and deadly, so unlike any the world had ever seen that it was known simply as “The Great War”.
The change from a day to celebrate the end of a war to a day to celebrate warriors came in 1954. That year there was a Red under every bed, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were engaged in a (sometimes) “Cold War” by exploding larger and still larger thermo-nuclear bombs, and oh yes; the year i got my Polio shots. My mother wept, and laughed as she wept as she hugged me when it was announced there was a vaccine for Polio: But that’s another story.
With the hindsight of half a century it seems plain that a holiday to celebrate the end of a war went against the grain of a government with ambitions of Empire. How much better for instilling a martial spirit it would be to have a holiday honoring warriors, and by extension war! Then too, the draft had continued from December of 1941 to then (and would continue ’til 1973); it must have seemed an easy way to throw a bone to the millions of young men enslaved for two years.
Or perhaps the irony of celebrating the end of ‘The War To End All Wars’, the ‘War To Make The World Safe For Democracy’ doomed Armistice Day regardless. How much blood, how much treasure has been wasted since the first Armistice Day!
Still, it would be nice to have a day to honor and celebrate Peace…