It’s time now to clear the air, and as America honors the service and sacrifice of all her armed forces, today also marks the 95th anniversary of the signing of the First World War armistice.
It was at five in the morning on November 11, 1918, that the terms of an armistice had finally been agreed between the German Secretary of State and allied negotiators. It would come into force at 11 o’clock that morning, and brought to an end 1,568 days of warfare.
And so, to honor this anniversary, there have been ceremonies across the Atlantic at military bases, town halls, schools–even railway stations–to mark the end of what came to be known as the Great War.
The service of American soldiers has, of course, been remembered with gratitude, with more than 116,000 giving their lives by the time the conflict had come to an end. And one of those heroes was the only African American to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Great War.
Corporal Freddie Stowers was killed as he led his all-black infantry regiment into no-man’s land. His determination and heroism to the fore, as he led repeated assaults on German trenches even after twice being wounded.
His commanding officer recommended Corporal Stowers for the Medal of Honor, but the nomination was somehow lost for 70 years. But in 1991, President George H.W. Bush posthumously awarded this highest of honors to Corporal Stowers’ two surviving sisters, and as he did so made a declaration that is as true today as it has ever been:
“Today, as we pay tribute to this great soldier, our thoughts continue to be with the men and women of all our wars who valiantly carried the banner of freedom into battle. They, too, know America would not be the land of the free, if it were not also the home of the brave.”
Lives worthy of remembrance on this Veterans Day.