Armistice Day

Armistice Day

Photo by Kyle Horner

Never heard of Armistice Day?  I’ve got news for you…you have, you just didn’t know it.

This holiday has many names. In France it is known as Armistice Day, in the U.S. it’s Veterans Day, and in the U.K. it’s Poppy Day.

Many other nations also know it as Remembrance Day. Now I’ll bet you’ve heard of at least one of those, right?

The important thing is that the meaning of the holidays remains the same in every country.

What is it?

Armistice Day is a day of remembrance for those that died in the First World War, as well as in the wars since. Officially, it is the anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918 for the West.

It commemorates the armistice (an agreement) signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the end of hostilities on the Western Front. The armistice took effect at 11:00 am – since known as the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”

Armistice Day celebration

Photo by Kyle Horner

Why it’s Important

The date is a national holiday in many of the former allied countries to allow people to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during the war. It has now become a day of remembrance for the many people who have lay down their lives in the many wars since then.

After World War II, the US changed the name to Veterans Day to remember the soldiers of all war-time conflicts.

The British changed it to Poppy day and wear red poppies to symbolize the flowers blowing on the fields of Flanders, a major battle site.

Many countries take a two minute moment of silence at 11:00 am on this day as a sign of respect for those that died during the war.

Veteran on Armistice Day

Photo by Jack Thielepape

How it’s Celebrated

This day holds major significance for the French and it has a place of its own among the many festivals and events in France.

It is celebrated with parades and religious ceremonies, and French flags are flying at every turn.
There is a traditional wreath laying ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and cemeteries all over the country are decorated with fresh flowers and flags.

You can also see many veterans of the armed forces out and about on Armistice Day – either in parades or just out on the street. Be sure to stop and thank them for their service. What they did for their country means a lot – be sure to tell them so.