“When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?” — George Canning
Many of us know the story — on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, major hostilities in the Great War were formally ended when the armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany inside a railway carriage in eastern France.
In modern times, we honor Nov. 11 every year as Veterans Day — a time to remember those who have served before us and those Americans who’ve paid for our way of life in blood.
What many KMC newcomers may not realize is the great Battle of Meuse-Argonne, or the “Grand Offensive,” considered the battle that ended the war, took place about an hour’s drive west of Kaiserslautern. This battle brought about the signing of the armistice, and the foundation of our Veterans Day tradition.
Beginning Sept. 26, 1918, America’s first large-scale contribution to the World War took place there, in the trenches. Allied forces, newly bolstered by well-trained but inexperienced American Soldiers and Marines, spent six weeks pushing through miles of well-fortified German machine gun positions.
In one of the bloodiest battles in American history, thousands upon thousands were killed on both sides before Germany finally agreed to a cease fire and signed the Armistice on Nov. 11.
Today, we serve in a time of war. We are all veterans as military operations continue in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have all made sacrifices in defense of our nation we would likely never have made in civilian life. I also believe we should consider our family members as honorary veterans because they have certainly made tremendous sacrifices in support of our service and the defense of our nation.
Veterans Day is a special day for everyone in the KMC for many reasons — enjoy your day off. But take a moment Thursday to reflect, honor, remember and celebrate those great Americans who have served before us and those who serve beside us, one way or another, every day.