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5 things you need to know about Armistice Day

Congress decided to rebrand November 11 as Veterans Day. Honoring the warrior quickly morphed into honoring the military and glorifying war.


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Armistice Day was flipped from a day for peace into a day for displays of militarism. Veterans For Peace has taken the lead in lifting up the original intention of November 11th — as a day for peace.

As veterans we know that a day that celebrates peace, not war, is the best way to honor the sacrifices of veterans. We want generations after us to never know the destruction war has wrought on people and the earth. On 11 November, , in London, an unknown soldier was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey and, in Paris, an unknown soldier was placed in the chapel of the Arc de Triomphe then later buried under the Arc at what is called the La tombe du soldat inconnu.

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The coffin of the soldat inconnu was one selected from eight coffins laid before a young recruit soldier, Auguste Thien. The soldat inconnu now represents the many soldiers killed in both world wars, who were unidentified.

This first modern world conflict had brought about the mobilisation of over 70 million people and left between 9 and 13 million dead, perhaps as many as one-third of them with no known grave. The allied nations chose this day and time for the commemoration of their war dead. On the first anniversary of the armistice in two minutes' silence was instituted as part of the main commemorative ceremony at the new Cenotaph in London. At about the same time, a South African statesman made a similar proposal to the British Cabinet, which endorsed it.

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King George V personally requested all the people of the British Empire to suspend normal activities for two minutes on the hour of the armistice "which stayed the worldwide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and Freedom". The two minutes' silence was popularly adopted and it became a central feature of commemorations on Armistice Day.


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Sydney, NSW, 11 November The clock on the GPO building says twelve o'clock and a replica sailing ship float has been set up in the centre. A bandstand with a domed roof is visible in the background. On the second anniversary of the armistice in the commemoration was given added significance when it became a funeral, with the return of the remains of an unknown soldier from the battlefields of the Western Front.

Unknown soldiers were interred with full military honours in Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triumph in Paris.

The entombment in London attracted over one million people within a week to pay their respects at the unknown soldier's tomb.