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Sunday, November 11, 2018

100 years later: peace on Earth, goodwill toward mankind?

Armistice Day, Paris, 11 November 1918.

Ten million soldiers dead.

One-hundred years ago, today, at the 11th hour (Paris, France time) of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice went into effect and World War I —the "War to End All Wars"— ended. War, not.

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One year later, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson commemorated the first observance of Armistice Day (which, in years to come, in the U.S. would be honored as Veterans Day).
A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.

With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.

Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.

To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from 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 nations.

The photo, from the British Imperial War Museum depicts an American sailor, an American Red Cross Nurse, and two British soldiers, standing near the Paris Gate at Vincennes, Paris, all celebrating the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918. It may not be a beer photo, but —in memory of those who fought and died, and in the ever hope of real peace on Earth, goodwill toward mankind— it marks an occasion that is, at the very least, more than worthy of a toast with a good beer.

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