On June 28, 1919 World War I – known at the time as “The Great War”- officially ended and the Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “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…”http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp
Today, we Americans still celebrate Armistice Day, better known as Veterans Day. It is a day to give thanks to those who are serving or have served in our Nation’s military. It is a day to thank them for their sacrifice. A day to remember the fallen.
Although the French and Indian War was fought between the British and the Native Americans and French, it took place on what is now American soil. The French and Indian War lasted from 1754 to 1763. Less than ten years later, the colonist revolted and the American Revolution began.
The American Revolution was the war for America’s independence from England, fought between 1775-1783. Colonist fought and died to make America and country, and their sacrifice can never be forgotten. But winning the war didn’t mean the end of war. America became a new nation fighting for its own ideals and freedoms.
After the revolution, there were The Indian Wars, fought between 1775-1890. Then there was The War of 1812, fought until 1815 against the British. The Mexican-American War followed, lasting from 1846 to 1848.
Preceding the Civil War, there were many battles fought over the issue of slavery and states’ rights. Border states like Kansas began fighting six years prior to the start of the Civil War, which began in 1861 and lasted until 1865.
In 1893, American military intervened in the Hawaiian Revolution, and our soldiers fought in The Spanish-American War of 1898. We also sent troops to the Samoan Civil War between
1898-1899 and the U.S.-Philippine War between 1899-1902.
In 1914, the world went to war after a long and difficult series of diplomatic clashes between Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914. The catalyst for the war occurred on June 28, 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. America joined the Allies in 1917, believing the Great War to be the war to end all wars, but the world wasn’t at peace.
Unresolved issues from WWI lead to greater conflict. War officially began on September 1, 1939, when Germany attacked Poland. Germany then crushed six countries in three months — Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and France — and proceeded to conquer Yugoslavia and Greece.
Japan’s plans for expansion in the Far East led it to attack Pearl Harbor in December 1941, bringing the United States into the war. By early 1942, all major countries of the world were involved in the most destructive war in history. More than 50 countries took part in the war, and The number of people killed, wounded, or missing between September 1939 and September 1945 can never be calculated, but it is estimated that more than 55 million people perished.
America fought in The Korean War from1950-1953 and the Vietnam War lasted from 1956-1975. The brutality and lack of national support during the Vietnam War led to a disheartening lack of support for the military and an appalling lack of appreciation for those who served in that conflict.
American conflicts in the middle east began in 1980 during the Iranian Hostage situation. “Desert One” or “Operation Eagle Claw” rescued the hostages but the conflicts were not resolved.
Between 1981 and 1986, the US was involved in the Libyan Conflict, although Gaddafi remained in power until his death at the hand of his own people in October of this year.
U.S. Intervention in Lebanon employed US troops between 1982-1984. And in 1983, the US invaded Grenada to rescue US citizens trapped in that country.
In 19819, the US invaded Panama, Then in 1991, Operation Desert Storm began. The war was short but the hostilities were never resolved.
U.S. intervention in Somalia lasted from 1992-1994 and the NATO Intervention in Bosnia (Operation Deliberate Force) utilized US troops from 1994-1995.
In 1994, the US occupied Haiti, protecting that country’s citizens from rebels. After the U.S. Embassy bombings and strikes on Afghanistan and Sudan (The bin Laden War) began in August, 1998 and continued until his capture and death on May 1, 2011.
“Desert Fox” Campaign (part of U.S./Iraq Conflict) occurred in December, 1998 and the war in
Kosovo involved the US in 1999.
After the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the war on terror began.
In Afghanistan, there was Operation Enduring Freedom, which began on October 7, 2001and continues today. Operation Iraqi Freedom, began March 19, 2003 and is still part of America’s war against terror.
Wars come and go, but the sacrifice of those who serve should never be forgotten.