November 11th is Veteran’s Day in the US, but some Americans may not know that it was originally called Armistice Day and celebrated the end of WWI. Hostilities of World War One, also known as the Great War, ended on Nov. 11, 1918. In 1954, the US changed the name of the holiday to Veteran’s Day.
The difference is between Memorial Day and Veterans Day is the former began in 1865 to honor the fallen of the Civil War, and later the fallen of all our wars. Veterans Day honors our vets, whether living or dead.
Poppies are handed out by veterans on Nov. 11. The fallen of World War One were buried where they died in France and Belgium, on muddy battlefields. Later poppies grew in these fields and became associated with the holiday.
Canadian soldier, John McCrae, wrote a famous poem entitled “In Flanders Fields” which he discarded due to dissatisfaction with what he wrote. His friends saved the poem and later that year it was published in the British Punch. This photo shows the entire poem.
Inscription of the complete poem in a bronze book at the John McCrae memorial at his birthplace in Guelph, Ontario. Photo by Lx 121 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8455795
I’m glad his friends recognized the worth of the poem.
My father and brother both served proudly in the US Air Force. I’ll be thinking about my dad today.
Since tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, I thought it appropriate for today’s Tuesday Travels topic to be the valor and sacrifice of the men who landed on the beaches at Normandy.
the memorial on Omaha Beach in Normandy via bigstockphotoo.com
On my July cruise, our first Port of Call was Le Havre, France. According to our guide, the correct pronunciation is “L’Avruh”, not “Le Harv”. The name simply means the harbor. We were one of the first groups off the ship, mustering at 7:30AM after a very short nice. (We lost an hour between London and Le Harve.) I hadn’t yet bought my new camera, so today’s photos are from bigstockphoto.com. (So happy I had credits left this summer.)
The motor coach took us to Normandy where we saw the beaches and cliffs the Allied forces were forced to assault. It’s no wonder there was such tremendous loss of life. We toured the Museum of the Landing Day at Arromanches, a lovely beach town, where we saw a film about the building of two artificial harbors developed by the British, called Mulberries, that were used to unload the heavy equipment needed for the campaign: jeeps, trucks, tanks, etc. A storm blew up shortly after the invasion and destroyed the Mulberry in the American sector. You can still see remnants of the British Mulberry near Arromanche les Bains.
Arromanches les Bains seafront beach and remains of the artificial harbour used on D-Day in World War II. Normandy France.
After lunch we visited Pointe du Hoc where visitors can climb onto some of the German bunkers and imagine how overwhelming it must have been to land on an exposed beach, then climb cliffs to engage the enemy.
American Cemetery in Colleville, Normandy
Grave of Unknown Soldier
Our tour ended at the American Cemetery in Colleville, a very moving experience. Some of the markers are for unknown solders and read
“Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God”.
I teared up when I saw that someone had left a pink rosebud by one of these markers.
Veteran’s Day used to be known as Armistice Day, the day World War I, the “war to end all wars,” came to its conclusion. Unfortunately, the Treaty of Versailles the followed planted the seeds for the next war. I wish WWI had been the war to end all wars, but sadly that did not happen. And that is why it’s important to reflect on the sacrifices of our men and women, and not just on Veteran’s Day.
Note: This may be the only Tuesday Travels this month as I have signed up for National Novel Writing Month for the first time this November. So the plan is to work on my next Regency romance instead of blogging.