My earliest memory of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is of walking home from kindergarten at age 5, accompanied by my mother. As I saw the American flags that had gone up along Route 51 in northern Illinois, she explained to me that these were in preparation for the parade which would take place the next day. Several years later, in 1956 when the holiday had become Veteran’s Day, I carried one of those flags in the parade as a Cub Scout. Veterans from the Great War were still in abundance. There have been more parades and ceremonies in the subsequent sixty five years than I can count or remember.
The carnage of the War to End All Wars was unimaginable at that time. War had become mechanized with tracked killing machines, automatic weapons that made the Gatling gun look ancient and railroad bombardment artillery that wreaked havoc on nearby towns and their civilian populations. In addition to 40M total combatant and civilian deaths, the resultant Spanish Flu pandemic produced another 2.6M deaths.