Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Why is Veterans or Armistice Day on November 11?


It was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when an armistice — or end of war — was reached between Allied forces and Germany in 1918, thus putting a halt to fighting on the western front during World War I, a war that tallied a worldwide total of 19.7 million casualties.

After World War II and another 72.6 million dead, President Dwight Eisenhower changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor American veterans of all wars and the British Commonwealth of Nations changed it to Remembrance Day. In South Africa and Malta, it is known as Poppy Day.

Red poppies originate from “In Flanders Fields,” a poem by Canadian military physician John McCrae, illustrating their resilience to bloom in battlefields of Flanders, Belgium during WWI.

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.

On a day that has become more about retail sales in the U.S. and debates about the war in Iraq, let’s put aside our differences and turn attention back to the real reason and real people who served with pride and love of country.

Take pause, show gratitude, honor their sacrifice.

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