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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 11, 1918

Hello, everybody.  Welcome to the November 11 edition of the TUESDAY TIMELINE, and this could very well be one of the more important Tuesday Timeline entries that I have ever written.  It certainly will take us back to one of the most important dates ever recorded in modern day history, and once you understand the story behind today's date, you will understand why it is so important.

Of course, before we go ahead with the main feature of today's timeline post, we probably should have a look at some of the other events that took place on the eleventh of November.

For what it is worth, a lot happened on this date.

1100 - Henry I marries Matilda of Scotland

1620 - The Mayflower Compact is signed in what is now known as Provincetown Harbor

1675 - Integral calculus is demonstrated by Gottfried Liebniz for the first time

1750 - The first college fraternity is founded at Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia - The Flat Hat Club Society

1778 - 40 civilians and soldiers lose their lives in the Cherry Valley massacre during the American Revolutionary War

1831 - Nat Turner is hanged after inciting a violent slave uprising in Virginia

1864 - Union General William Tecumseh Sherman begins burning Atlanta to the ground during the American Civil War

1869 - The Victorian Aboriginal Protection Act is enacted in Australia

1889 - Washington becomes the 42nd state to join the United States of America

1922 - Author and soldier Kurt Vonnegut (d. 2007) is born in Indianapolis, Indiana

1925 - Actor/comedian Jonathan Winters (d. 2013) is born in Bellbrook, Ohio

1926 - The United States begins numbering their highways - which includes U.S. Route 66

1940 - One hundred and forty-four people are killed when a sudden blizzard blankets the Midwestern United States

1966 - NASA launches Gemini 12

1975 - The nation of Angola becomes an independent nation

1984 - Martin Luther King Sr. - father of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., dies at the age of 84

1992 - A historic vote within the General Synod of the Church of England grants women the right to become priests

2000 - In Kaprun, Austria, a cable car catches fire in an alpine tunnel, killing 155 people

2001 - Three journalists are killed when their convoy is attacked in Afghanistan

And, for celebrity birthdays, we have quite a few to share as well.  A very happy birthday goes out to June Whitfield, Bibi Andersson, Susan Kohner, Denise Alexander, Barbara Boxer, Marc Summers, Marshall Crenshaw, Andy Partridge, Peter Parros, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Calista Flockhart, Kim Stockwood, David L. Cook, Carson Kressley, David DeLuise, Adam Beach, Tyler Christopher, Melissa Stark, Jason White, Leonardo DiCaprio, Natalie Glebova, Kalan Porter, Jessica Sierra, Vinny Guadagnino, Chanelle Hayes, and Connor Price.

All right.  As I said before, this is a date that is very, very important in our history books.  It is on this date that a major historical event came to an end, and ever since that date, we have internationally recognized it as an important event that we observe every year on this date.

The date in question?  November 11, 1918.

So, what happened 96 years ago on this particular date?  Well, to begin this tale, we actually have to go back in time even further to 1914.

You know, I can't believe that it was one hundred years ago that World War I first began.  I am sure that most of us know how the conflict began.  The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28, 1914 set off a keg of gunpowder that caused multiple nations to go to war with each other.  And anyone who has ever studied World War I in history knows just how deadly this conflict was.  The multiple battles that took place in the just over four year conflict resulted in thousands of casualties. 

For instance, in Canada (my birth nation), it is estimated that at least 60,000 members of the Canadian military sacrificed their lives for their country.  The number of soldiers who died from the United States was nearly double the amount that Canada lost.  France was perhaps one of the hardest hit nations that took part in war efforts, with over one million soldiers losing their lives.  At the time, that was 4% of France's overall population!  And in Austria - the country where the Archduke hailed from, at least 1.2 million were killed.

Of course, nobody knows the precise total of those who were killed in combat, but the total number of casualties in World War I was estimated to be around ten million people.

Those are ten million soldiers who bravely fought for their countries.  Ten million soldiers who left loved ones behind.  Ten million people who sacrificed their lives and their freedom so that the people they loved back home could still enjoy and experience freedom.

The war lasted from the summer of 1914 until the autumn of 1918.  November 11, 1918, to be exact.  A ceasefire occurred that day with the signing of an armistice agreement between Germany and Allied forces in a rail car parked in the middle of a French forest outside of Compeigne, France.  The official end of the war would not take place until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles a few months later.

However, the events of November 11, 1918 were significant enough for the date to have a permanent place on calendars all over the world. 

You see, the armistice agreement was signed at eleven o'clock in the morning.  The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  And over the past ninety-six years and counting, we have used this moment in time to reflect back on the sacrifices that so many brave soldiers made to protect their homeland from harm against enemy forces.

In Canada, the day is known as Remembrance Day.  In the United States, it is called Veterans Day.  And if you live in Europe, most of you probably know of the day as Armistice Day.  Regardless of what the day is called in your countries, know that it is a day in which we pay tribute to our fallen soldiers by marking a two minute silence at eleven o'clock in the morning, lasting until 11:02.

There are other symbols and traditions that we all take part in on November 11.  In Canada, we wear poppies on our jackets as a symbol of remembrance (the symbol being the main focus of John McCrae's famous poem, "In Flanders Fields").  And I seem to remember going to the cenotaph in the middle of town with my elementary school classmates each year to pay our respects to those who gave their lives for their country.

I even remember taking part in the fifth grade Remembrance Day Assembly where we had to hold up a letter in the word BRAVERY and recite a small speech based on each letter.  I was the "B".  Talk about pressure being the first one to speak!  It was a great honour, though.  I was happy that I took part.

And, in recent years, Remembrance/Veterans/Armistice Day has reached a new level of importance.  The day was put in place to honour those soldiers who died during the first World War, but since 1918, we have also had to bear witness to a second World War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation: Desert Storm, Operation: Iraqi Freedom, and most recently, the battle against ISIS. 

Certainly here in Canada, we have more of a reason to honour our veterans and those who gave their lives for us - in particular with the tragic deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, and Corporal Nathan Cirillo last month still fresh on all Canadians minds.

It is estimated that poppy distribution in my country is up by one million poppies from last year, and that record breaking crowds of people are planning to attend various war memorials all over the world to pay tribute to their fallen heroes.

So, to close this blog off...let us all take a moment today to pause in silence to remember those who died in combat.  May peace be with all of you.

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