Today is Veterans Day in the US and Remembrance Day in Britain, Canada and Australia.
It is a somber day that many countries celebrate to honor those who fought for their countries. We remember those who have protected us and kept us safe throughout the years.
In many countries, Veterans Day and Remembrance Day are commemorated publicly, so that everyone can pay their respects to those who lost their lives. Heroes are remembered through public memorial ceremonies, programs at military cemeteries and parades. The Commonwealth tradition of one or two minutes of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marks the time in the United Kingdom when the Armistice was declared. Wreaths are laid at monuments and gravestones.
We were overwhelmed with the number of stories and photos we received via our social media platforms and email.
In honor of today's events, here are some of the stories. We hope that recording them here will help preserve them, along with the memories of the brave men and women, lest we forget.
My uncle, John Denham, was on Convoy Escort Duty on board the HMS Penzance off Nova Scotia during WWII. His ship was attacked by a submarine and Uncle John was killed and went down with his ship and crew.
My great-uncle Flt. Sgt. James Ellis Jones was one of three men who survived when their Halifax was shot down over Germany during a bombing mission. He was taken to a POW camp outside Berlin where the men risked their lives by sneaking over the boundary to get wood. One night, he was spotted going, was shot and wounded, dying three weeks later from peritonitis. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM).
In 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice was declared between the parties – the Allies and Germany - in World War I, known as the “Great War.”
In the US, the first Armistice Day was declared in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson:
"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 the nations…"
In 1938, November 11 became a legal federal holiday in the US. After World War II and the Korean War, the name was changed to Veterans Day and the holiday was dedicated to American veterans of all wars. The holiday focuses attention on the celebration that honors veterans of America for their patriotism and willingness to serve.
Today, there are more than 24 million Veterans who have served in the US Armed Forces. Most families have a relative, friend or neighbor who served or still serves.