Does anyone know the significance of the phrase ” the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”? It’s the time, day, and month when, in 1918, the peace treaty was signed bringing an end to the conflict we know today as World War I. People notice and remember unusual coincidences like this.
In the years following 1918 many nations chose to honor those who fought and died in the War with special ceremonies held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In England, an Unknown Soldier was buried in Westminster Abbey. Remember last week when I talked about Westminster Abbey as the sacred and hollowed place where the people of Great Britain honor their heroes. In France an Unknown Soldier was buried in Paris beneath the Arch de Triumph, a sacred place to the French.
In the United States, on November 11, 1921, we created the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Our Congress made this day a national holiday, originally known as Armistice Day – to honor the end of the “war to end all wars”. Unfortunately, there were other wars.
Over time, other nameless heroes have been added to our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Today, there is an unidentified soldier from WWI, WWII, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War. This sacred place has come to symbolize all those who have fought and died in the service of our country. Armistice Day has been renamed Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day should be a time when we remember, and honor, all that have served in this nations armed forces.
For a brief time, back when I was about your age, Veteran’s Day was moved from November 11th. Congress turned it into one of those Monday – 3 day weekend holidays. People, however, remembered the coincidental date. Fate or the hand of God perhaps, had marked forever the 11th of November – Congress had to change it back. Scouts, I’m sorry, but I should have remembered to talk about Veteran’s Day last week.
Next year though, perhaps we’ll all remember to honor our Veteran’s on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. At this time I would like all of those adults present, who have served in our nations military, to come forward. Let’s remember how much we owe these men. I would like to ask them to close our meeting and retire our flags for us tonight. Thank you.