Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Monday, November 06, 2006


Veterans' Day: November 11

When my mother was 8 years old, she experienced a very important event in history. For several years, many countries had been fighting in a terrible war called the Great War, now called the First World War. On November 11, 1918, the war ended. My mother used to tell us how happy and relieved everyone had been because the fighting was over and the soldiers could come home.

People all over the United States and Canada came out of their houses and into the streets to sing, dance, and celebrate, as shown in the picture (below) of the celebration in Detroit, Michigan. People in many other countries in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere were also very happy that the fighting had stopped. Everyone hoped that there would never be another war.

A year later, November 11 became a special holiday when people remembered the war, and every year afterwards people celebrated. When my mother was young it was called Armistice Day, because armistice means the agreement that ends a war. She told us that every year on this holiday at 11 minutes after 11 in the morning there was a minute of silence to honor the soldiers. Every year, her teachers told her about the war. They hoped that the end of the First World War had brought an end to all wars. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

During the First World War, many red poppies had begun to bloom near the places where the soldiers were fighting.
Red poppies became a reminder of the war. Every November 11, many people wore red poppy decorations on their collars to show that they remembered the soldiers. They also celebrated with parades and speeches.

My friend Sheila recently asked her father if he remembered the end of the First World War. At that time, he was only three years old. He remembers only one thing about the end of the war. His family lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, near the Water of Leith, a river. His neighbor was a soldier. His mother told him to watch for the neighbor: "If you see him marching home it means that the war is over." One day his mother pointed out the neighbor was marching home along the banks of the river, wearing his full regimental uniform, which included a scarlet diagonal sash. She said, "This means that the war is over."

How we celebrate November 11
November 11 is called Veterans Day in the United States now. Some schools have a day off. Your teachers might talk about the end of the First World War and about the memory of the soldiers, or veterans, from many wars. In England, Sheila told me, November 11 is now called "Remembrance Day." People still observe a minute of silence and wear poppies made of paper (like the one in this picture). She has a special poppy brooch that she wears every year.

Next Saturday is November 11. Some offices and schools might close the day before, since Saturday is a day off anyway. In our family, November 11 is also special because it is Adam's twentieth birthday! Maybe we will have a birthday party for him.

When I think about Veterans' Day, I hope that some way will be found to end war and have peace in the world.

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