Friday, November 12, 2010

Remembrance Day

Every November 11, Americans honor their veterans by observing Veterans Day. It is my opinion that we should thank our veterans every day for the freedoms that we enjoy. My grandfather and great uncle served in the Navy and Army respectively during World War II. Grandpa Max was in the Pacific Theater and Uncle Bill served in the European Theater. Every now and then my grandfather will tell me stories about the war and I really enjoy them.

While Americans observe Veterans Day, the French celebrate Armistice Day. It is pretty much the same holiday but it celebrates the ending of World War I, which ended at "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. There are some differences in the way it is observed though. I didn't see any Veterans Day sales and the kids had the day off of school. This is the normal for the many holidays that Europeans celebrate but while I don't understand all of them, I understand this one.

The Armistice ending World War I was signed in Compiegne, France and was obviously a great victory for the country. Blois is no different than so many other French villages with a monument honoring the lives lost in the war.

The United States did indeed participate in World War I but not until April 6, 1917. While we did participate we also didn't suffer the amount of casualties or have our country torn apart like many countries in Europe did. France suffered 1,697,800 killed over the course of the war with 300,000 being civilians. In comparison, the United States had 116,708 killed with 757 of them being civilians. In total, there were 16 million deaths and 21 million wounded during World War I. A simple look at the numbers shows the significance of the holiday.

I should note that the numbers and figures aren't exact. It was certainly tried but impossible to keep exact figures because of the destruction caused from new war technology, firepower and trench warfare that was utilized. There are still fields around Europe that people aren't permitted to walk in because of the danger that exists from the amount of unexploded shells. My figures came from Wikipedia.