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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Greg's Weekly Word: "armistice"

Today - November 11 - is Veteran's Day, when Americans honor those who have served in the military. But Veteran's Day was not always Veteran's Day...

November 11 was first celebrated as Armistice Day, marking the date of the end of World War I when after years of grueling, bloody trench warfare, armies on both sides laid down their weapons. That's what armistice means, after all - coming from two Latin words, arma ("arms") and sistere ("stand still").*

The US Congress declared the date

should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.  

Sadly, “the war to end all wars” did not end them, and armies and arms did not stand still for long. And so in 1954 the day was renamed “Veterans Day,” to honor veterans from all the wars since. And even more sadly, we have become veterans of war - as almost constant conflicts rage and wars are being waged around the world.

But perhaps, even so, we can reclaim the original purposes of this day:

  • A day of thanksgiving: for the service of military veterans, and for the service of their families and friends and caregivers - doctors, chaplains, mental health professionals - who walk with these veterans through the long-lasting effects of war.

  • A day of prayer: for those who still serve and sacrifice, and that war and conflict and violence would diminish and give way to long and lasting peace.

  • A day of exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding: for us all to find whatever ways we can to build bridges with others, even across the chasms of difference and suspicion and hostility.

On this Armistice Day / Veterans Day, may we recommit ourselves to the work of waging peace, in ways large and small - in our homes and families, in our neighborhoods and communities, in our country and our world - until the vision of the prophet is realized...

In days to come

the mountain of the Lord’s house

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and shall be raised above the hills;

all the nations shall stream to it...

They shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more.

(Isaiah 2:2-4)


*I draw much of this information from the SALT Project's "A Brief Theology of Veteran's Day"

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