On 1918 November 11th at 11:00am an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, officially halting combat operations in the First World War, ending “the war to end all wars” which had claimed 37,466,904 casualties.
The following year President Wilson in his official Armistice Day proclamation stated:
“….Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service… … with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
Armistice Day was amended to say Veterans Day on 1954 as a result of veteran organizations lobbying congress to recognize service after WW1––WW2, Korea during WW2, Korea and other combat operations after WW1.
The same year President Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the first Veterans Day Proclamation:
“…On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain…”
Many participants of our wars have taken these questions head on, searching for meaning and purpose so that their collective “efforts shall not have been in vain…” This is clear in Veteran Documentary Corps short format documentary on David Gan. Mr. Gan, an Infantry soldier pulled from the lines after being wounded in Normanday, strives to live a rich life anchored in service. In doing so he pays homage to his brothers in arms who can’t.
Similarly in Casey Conklin’s story, we learn of a Army Ranger’s challenge to find a new sense of purpose as selfless and meaningful as that of the Rangers during war. Both stories reveal the character and perseverance of our military on a personal level. Their commitment to the spirit of Armistice and Veterans Day is not restricted to a holiday but to their every day.
By listening patiently and compassionately to their experiences we develop a richer meaning for service and stay true to our responsibility of “enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain..”
Visit the Veteran Documentary Corps at www.veterandocs.org to view and share our films. Do you personally know someone who’d make a strong candidate for documentary? Visit our nomination page to refer a veteran.