“the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month” . . . the “Guns Went Silent” . . .
Throughout my life the first half of this phrase is what folks have always associated with Armistice Day. That day when WWI – the “war to end all wars” – ended.
In 1926 the date became recognized as “Armistice Day”. In 1938 it became a national holiday. And it 1954 it gained its current name – “Veterans Day”. A day set aside to honor all veterans. It was so proclaimed in the “Veterans Day Proclamation”
Rather than the date/time of the end of hostilities, rather than “the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month”, I would like to focus on the phrase – “The Guns Went Silent”. The guns had raged in Europe for 4 years. 30 Million dead. An estimated 35 THOUSAND MILES of trenches scared the landscape. New methods of death had been developed and used – from mustard and phosgene gases to aircraft dropping bombs . . . machine guns, tanks, long range artillery . . . not to mention nature's toll from the trenches – flu, infection, dysentery, pneumonia.
And suddenly . . . in an instant . . . “the guns went silent”. After 4 years you could hear the wind, the birds, a clock . . . and not the guns. What would that have sounded like? Thanks to the technology of 1918 and the technology of 2018 . . . we have some idea.
Here is a link to the project “Making a New World: Armistice Soundwave” that describes how the data for the recording was gathered. Note that it was technology to gather data to kill the guns . . .
And THIS, THIS RIGHT HERE is what it actually sounded like . . . amazing.
I can’t imagine the relief given the horror those on the front experienced on a daily basis.
That said, this is but a moment in time of a nearly 250 year history of Americans defending American ideals and allies. Where the American Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine stood, took their oath of service and faced an enemy. Many of them have had their moment when the “guns went silent” be it an ambush, rocket attack, perimeter attack, when the immediate danger ended and they were relative safe . . . or when they boarded the “freedom bird” for rotation back to friends and family. They were finally out of range of small arms fire, artillery fire, rockets and mortar fire . . . and the guns were truly silent.
To all Veterans – thank you for your service, for your willingness to defend us all, for your willingness to sacrifice all. May the guns be silent and may you all enjoy the peace.