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Saturday, November 11, 2017

'Let Us Have Peace'

On Veterans Day I want to not only salute my fellow Veterans but also share a few thoughts on why we observe this day.

When Nov. 11 became a holiday, it was known as Armistice Day, dedicated to those who fought and to the memory of those who died.  Its name recognized the armistice that officially ended World War I.  In fact, it was called Armistice Day until 1954, when Congress enacted legislation to change it to the current designation.

Perhaps of greater interest than remembering veterans, though, should be a remembrance of why Armistice Day seemed worthy of a holiday.  It was to recognize peace.  Some of our World War I allies, including Canada, still adhere to that thought, recognizing Nov. 11 as “Remembrance Day.”  They remember that on a cold muddy field on the border of Belgium and France near the dawn of the 20th Century one great army surrendered to another and began to observe peace instead of war.  Peace had broken out and the silencing of the machines of war was just cause for celebration.

Nancy Byrd Turner, in her fine poem about the armistice, “Let Us Have Peace,” wrote:
The Earth is weary of our foolish wars.
Her hills and shores were shaped for lovely things.
Yet, all our years are spent in bickerings
                   beneath the astonished stars.

With life so fair, and all too short a lease
Upon our special star! Nay, love and trust,
Not hate and violence shall redeem our dust.
                    Let us have peace!

Men and women took up arms in the hope that by doing so they and their children could forever embrace peace.  As we observe Veterans Day, let us hope this goal will not be forgotten.  To strive for peace is a promise Americans ultimately should be making every year, not only when “observing” Veterans Day, but, indeed, when “celebrating” it.

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