On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month... The first great war came to an end - a war in which many men gave their lives and service to put an end to conquest between kingdoms of Europe. It brought to close a war that changed the way wars were fought - no longer was war a gentleman's feat. The Great War introduced chemical warfare, trench warfare, aerial combat, arms races which took advantage of industrial technologies, and a total warfare that would make Sherman blush.
It was an end to the "War to end all wars".
Unfortunately European Nationalism replaced monarchies, and the hellish scene was replayed a generation later - leading to the second great war, WWII.
By the closing days of WWII, fascism saw defeat, but the world saw a war machine that had gone nuclear, and was intending on a permanent presence.
Since then, the world has been in a constant state of war - that is to say that the United States itself has directly been involved in a hot/warm conflict since the beginning of WWII - 67 years of war - and it has begun to define the state of our union:
1941 -1945: WWII - heavy active combat in Europe, Africa, Middle East, and East Asia
1945 - 1989: Russia - Cold War instigated numerous conflicts world-wide
1945-1946: Philippines - Occupation for Independence
1945 - 2008: Korea - Initial occupation to fight socialists, then Korean War, then continued occupation. Actual HOT conflict 1950 - 1953
1950 - 1955: China - multiple small conflicts as the country fell to communists, ultimate US withdrawal of troops
1956 - 1958: Middle East - the US acted as security for international interest in the Suez Canal Crisis and the Lebanon Crisis
1955 - 1975: Vietnam - bailing out the French, the US became the main fighting force by 1959, marking the beginning of the Vietnam era in the US - including bombing campaigns of Cambodia and Laos along the Ho-Chi-Minh trail
1962: Thailand, Cuba, Laos - The US deployed troops around the world to fight the spread of communism
1973: Israel - US assists in delivering arms during the Yom Kippur War
1975 marked a near unilateral withdrawal from major conflict zones in the Middle East and Southeast Asia
1976: Korea - the US surges troops along the DMZ to reduce tension and NK aggression against the US and SK
1978: Congo - the US bails out the French and Belgians from central Africa
1978 - 1989: Afghanistan - covert war against the Soviet Union, funded by the US and fought with US weapons
1980 - 1990: Middle East - US is involved with operations in Iran, Libya, Sinai, Lebanon, Egypt, Persian Gulf (Iran) - acting as security forces for regional conflicts and protection of oil shipping lines
1988-1990: Central America/South America - The drug wars of Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru
1991 - Kuwait: First Persian Gulf War against Iraq, lead to occupation of Saudi and Kuwaiti territory from 1990 - 2003, enforcing no fly zones
1992 - Somalia: Part of Peace Keeping operations with cooperation in the UN
1993 - 1999 - Balkans: Us involved in ending armed conflict between ethnic groups
1998 - 1999 - Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Sudan: battle against al-Qaeda begins globally
2001 - 2008 - Afghanistan: war on terror
2003 - 2008 - Iraq: war against Saddam Hussein, became central front of war on terror
There you have it - 67 years of continuous US involved wars, conflicts, etc... The list is much more extensive, including deployment of small forces for training, special ops, etc... but the major battles and conflict are shown above, indicating a change in the world in the face of new war technologies.
So on this Remembrance Day, I ask that we not only remember the service and dedication to the missions that so many men and women have valiantly conducted their missions - but to also question the escalation of post WWII violence around the world.
I can speak for many when I say that there is an increased tension in world security, world peace, and ideological conflicts in our time - much more so, I would surmise, than in the years leading up to WWII.
This Veteran's Day, remember our service men and women - but also remember the intent of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - a Remembrance of what the sacrifices of the Great War represented - a reminder that it is more important to strive for peace than for war... the toll is much too high, otherwise.