Part One: Whoops, They Shot a Dude
So, once upon a time, about a hundred years ago, Europe looked a lot differently than it does now. There were a couple of empires, a few countries we know of today didn’t exist, and there were some people who kind of hated this situation.
Gavril Princip, one of those dudes who didn’t like this situation, was ultimately successful in assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, almost completely by accident, when their motorcade ended up driving right up to him. (Seriously. ) He shot both, killing them, and thus setting off a chain reaction that had Europe taking sides along treaty lines when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, who had Russia as an ally, who then pissed off Germany when they decided to mobilize in favor of Serbia, and since France didn’t like Germany, they then mobilized, and so on and so forth.
Part Two: Whoops, We Started a War
So, now all of Europe was basically mobilizing for war; the Central Powers, which basically consisted of all of the empires, plus Bulgaria, and the Allies, which was….everyone else. Nobody thought it was going to last very long….then they decided, after it turned long and raw and bloody and stalemated, that it would be “The War to End All Wars,” and surely we wouldn’t have to worry about another one, right? It killed millions, and not just from war, but from the Spanish flu epidemic as well. Almost every empire involved disappeared, save for the British Empire: Russia withdrew after the February Revolution kicked the Romanovs out of power, and it became a republic, the Ottoman Empire was sliced up, and the German Empire was cut up as well. New countries were formed out of the debris. New angers, as well, as the world would find out twenty years later.
Part Three: Whoops, We Signed an Armistice
So, November 11. Armistice Day. The day fighting ended on the Western Front, though not the actual end of the war itself (the Versailles Treaty would be six months later). Remembered now as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day, it’s a day to remember our veterans, alive or dead, and recognize the sacrifices they made. Even if you don’t approve of war (I don’t!) or the military in general (don’t like ’em much!), I still want to recognize and remember those who put on the uniform:
My dad, who served in Vietnam for four years. His best friend, who came back with shrapnel in his leg. My grandfathers; one a Merchant Marine, the other in the Army. And my great-uncle, who went to Korea as a Marine, and came back to be buried. His name graces the Sugar Land Veteran’s Memorial. I never got to meet him, because war fucking sucks. He was only twenty years old.
So for a few more hours (or not, depending on where you are in the world), it’s Armistice Day, Veterans Day or Remembrance Day. Hug a vet. Wear a poppy. Donate to help veterans. And enjoy the rest of the day.