Few dates in history are etched into the world’s collective consciousness. Americans remember December 7, 1941 for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, September 11, 2011, the attack on the World Trades Center in New York City and of course July 4, 1776 the day America declared her independence from Great Britain.

IN the 20th century, the date of 11.11.11 (November 11, 1911,) is the day the armistice was signed ending the First World War also known as the Great War. There was nothing great about the Great War, the casualties of battle killed or wounded almost 40 million people, almost 20 million died and 24 million people were wounded. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in world history. Millions of people suffered from the ravages of disease and famine while almost 6 million souls were considered missing in action.

Sunday, November 11, 2018 commemorates the 100th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in Europe and the world pauses to remember all of those effected by the war to end all wars. Ceremonies in the United Kingdom, France and Germany will honor those who fought in battles and lost their lives in the defense of freedom. The commemorative poppy pin will garnish the lapels of millions of people in grateful remembrance of the day this war of violence and carnage finally came to an end. Across the former battlefields of Europe, the fading echoes of military dirges will drift off into memories and leaders throughout the world will pledge their countries will never, never allow such a tragedy against humanity to happen again.

Of course, we all know the pledges against war and violence are in vain. Within a generation the continent of Europe was ravaged by the atrocities of the Second World War and solemn pledges were again broken. Millions again died and the entire world, not just Europe experienced the ravages of war. Even greater ignominious aggressions against humanity took place in the Second World War which made the Great War seem pale in comparison.

Wars have plagued the world since the dawn of civilization and military conflicts continues after the Second World War. The Korean War, the Vietnam War, the ongoing war in the Persian Gulf and the never-ending war being fought globally against terrorism are signs that mankind’s desire for armed conflicts overshadows the promises of peace and global harmony.

While the weapons of war have changed from the rocks and clubs of primitive man, the tools of war today are marvels of technology. Their efficacy is the same as primitive man’s weapons of war, our weapons of war, kill other humans. Countries throughout the world spend more on weapons of mass destruction than is spent on education, healthcare and food for the hungry. Rather than commemorating the end of the Great War on 11.11.11, the nations of the world should diligently renew the promises of peace and harmony and finally resolve to work out the world’s problems through diplomacy and fellowship.

In October of 1965, Pope Paul VI made a visit to the United Nations in New York City. It was remarkable that the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church would visit the diplomatic center for the world’s nations. His visit was not of a social nature. Pope Paul VI came to implore the world to work together for peaceful resolutions to the world’s conflicts. He outlined what he perceived to be the role of the world’s leaders in his momentous speech:

If you wish to be brothers, let the weapons fall from your hands. One cannot love with offensive weapons in his hands. Those weapons, especially the terrible weapons that modern science has given you, long before they produce victims and ruins, cause bad dreams, foster bad feelings, create nightmares, distrust and somber resolves; they demand enormous expenditures; they obstruct projects of solidarity and useful work; they falsify the very psychology of peoples. If man remains that weak, changeable and even wicked being that he often shows himself to be, defensive arms will, unfortunately, be necessary. As for you, however, your courage and your work impel you to study ways of guaranteeing the security of international life without recourse to arms. This is an aim worthy of your efforts; this is what the peoples of the world expect of you; this is what you must achieve. Pope Paul VI, Address to the United Nations, October 1965.

Fifty-three years have passed since the pleas of Pope Paul VI reverberated in the assembly hall of the United Nations and the world continues to engage in war. While the wars rage on and peoples throughout the world suffer from the indignities of violence and military aggression the parades of the world’s military will gather to remember the Great War on 11.11.11. Even though there is really no glory in war, only death, destruction and human suffering the commemorations will continue.

It is indeed laudable that we commemorate and remember those who have fought and died for freedom and justice for the peoples of the world to live in peace. However, until we cease the incessant human preoccupation of glorifying war and those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives…the killings will continue, and the wars will rage on and on.

The Great War, World War 1 was nothing of the sort. It was a brutal example of mans transgressions of violence against other men. When the world pauses on Sunday, November 11, 2018, there should be no parades, no military bands and no fly-overs of military air crafts and most emphatically no one attired in military uniforms, resplendent with decorations of martial violence. There should only be prayerful silence to remember the dead and to listen for the echoes of promises of peace pledged by generations of the world’s leaders. These echoes of peace have vainly fallen on deaf ears in the past ten decades since 11.11.11, but the impassioned pleading of Paul VI, should reverberate on the fields of Flanders and the now destitute military trenches of France…

“No more war, war never again.”

 

 

 

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