This Veteran's Day, November 11, 2018, DIILS honors the service and sacrifice given by all service members on our Nation's behalf, and pays special tribute to the many veterans who have been part of the DIILS mission over its 25+ year history.
This year's Veteran's Day commemoration is unique because it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the unofficial end of World War. The red poppy has come to symbolize Veteran's Day, due in part to the poem, "In Flanders Field." The poem and a Washington Post article about the history of Veteran's Day appears below.
By John McRae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our 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,
Loved 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.
By Marylou Tousignant, The Washington Post
Published: November 7, 2018
Sunday is Veterans Day. This annual event often gets overlooked on the calendar in the run-up to Thanksgiving and the December holidays. But this Veterans Day is special. It's the 100th anniversary of the unofficial end of World War I.
The actual peace treaty wasn't signed until later, but Nov. 11, 1918 - at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - is when a truce called an armistice was signed and the fighting stopped.
One year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11 Armistice Day. Other countries did the same, some calling it Remembrance Day. In this country, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
World War I was one of history's largest wars. Most of the fighting was in Europe, but 30-plus countries took part, including the United States. More than 29 million soldiers worldwide died or were wounded, and an estimated 13 million civilians died - a horrific toll that led to it being branded "the war to end all wars."
Each year, a U.S. competition is held to design a poster for Veterans Day. The winning entry appears on pins and on the cover of the program for a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
This year's theme, "The War to End All Wars," drew about 80 entries. Adam Grimm, whose design won, kept it simple. His poster has a large red poppy, the worldwide symbol for remembering World War I; barbed wire to show the brutality of the war; and the pink hue of a rising or setting sun, showing the passage of time.
Many Americans confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day, another U.S. holiday related to the military.
Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in the 1860s following the Civil War. After World War I, its meaning changed. It honors U.S. military who died in any conflict, and it is observed on the last Monday in May.
Veterans Day also reflects a new meaning from the original Armistice Day, which honored all who served in World War I, but especially those who died. By 1954, the United States had fought in World War II and the Korean War. Lawmakers decided to rename the day to honor all American military, past and present, whether they served in war or peace.
In 1915, a Canadian doctor and soldier, mourning a friend's death in battle in the Flanders region of Belgium, wrote a poem noting how quickly poppies grew around the soldiers' graves. The bright red wildflowers were a sign of life in a bleak landscape.
The poem "In Flanders Fields" (the opening lines are printed above) became very popular, and the red poppy became a sign of remembrance.