November 11, 1918, at 11am – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - Germany surrendered. It was the end of the Great War, World War 1 as it later became known. We honor this day in the memory of all the soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. Because Korea was in the grip of Japan with freedom problems of their own, many people here don’t really know about the war. Your day for celebration is August 15, the end of World War 2. Sunday will be the 100th anniversary of that day. So I decided it needed a little more recognition this year than Ppeppero day does.
When one country attacks another it usually only involves those two countries. But because of fear of attacks, different European countries made alliances to come to each other’s aid if needed. Britain, France, Ireland and Russia were allies, and Germany had an agreement with Austria-Hungary. The heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife Sophie, were assassinated by a Serbian terrorist group, the Black Hand. The killer was a Bosnian revolutionary. So the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph, threatened war on Serbia. Germany agreed to help Austria and Russia supported Serbia. A month later war was declared on Serbia with Germany’s agreement to back Austria-Hungary. Then Germany declared war on Russia, then France. Germany sent troops to attack France and they went through Belgium. Britain promised to keep Belgium neutral, so they declared war on Germany. They had the first battle in Belgium. The Germans managed to proceed into France when they were stopped. Both sides started digging trenches and stayed in relatively the same place until the end of the war.
Germany also attacked Russia. They had believed they could defeat France in four weeks, then finish off Russia after that. Things did not go as planned. When Britain came to defend Belgium, many Canadians joined them. None of my relatives were in that group because my family was still mostly in the Netherlands at that time. But my grandfather was at the border as a soldier, protecting it from any invasion from any group. I do not wish to cover the rest of the war; it is old news. But many countries got involved; American joined in 1917 after the sinking of seven merchant ships by submarines and the discovery that Germany was urging Mexico to go to war with the United States. In the end, many people died, the Germans surrendered, the victors punished Germany too harshly which led to World War 2.
Which all leads to Remembrance Day. At 11am on November 11, at cenotaphs and other recognized places, including schools, we gather to pray and remember the people who gave their lives or service to protect the freedoms we have today. Both of my parents served in the military: my Dad was a marine and my mother an army nurse. My dad spoke of cousins who disappeared during WW2. He said they were part of the Dutch resistance and since they disappeared, they were probably caught by the Germans and executed. If you look in your family history you have some stories too. I honor the dead in my family, and all those who fought to protect those they loved
A soldier penned this poem during WW1. We regularly read it during ceremonies on Remembrance Day. John McCrae, who was that soldier, died during the conflict.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row.
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scare heard amid the guns below
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved ad were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields