Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Remember those who have given their lives for us

<r the past month there has been a series of events to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War One. The war was a defining event in the 20th century, and by all accounts it was a horrible, inhuman conflict beyond what anyone could have imagined. In the words of Robert Frost, it was a war “fought for a reason beyond reason.” The introduction of modern military weapons such as the machine gun made the chivalrous cavalry charges of the past impossible, but at the same time, the military strategists had not yet perfected the use of airpower and mechanized transportation. The result was a stalemate with bloody trench warfare that lasted for years.

Statistics from the war are staggering. More than 40 million soldiers and civilians were either killed or wounded. In the seven months the U.S. was engaged in battle at the end of the war, almost 120,000 soldiers died, eight of them Carleton students or young alumni. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916 the British forces suffered almost 60,000 casualties; by the time the battle had ended in November there were more than 1.5 million casualties on both sides. Throughout the entire four and quarter years of war, soldiers of all combatant nations died at a rate of approximately 230 per hour.

The Armistice to end the so-called Great War went into effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. Beginning in the 1920s this day was set aside as a national holiday to honor those who had served so valiantly during the war. In 1954 it was decided that the veterans of all wars should be remembered, and since that time this day has been known as Veterans Day.

Much of the fighting during the First World War took place near Ypres in Flanders, and during the war almost 300,000 soldiers of the British Empire died there, 90,000 of whom have no known grave. To recognize these soldiers, the British erected the Menin Gate at Ypres in 1927 and inscribed their names on the walls. Each evening since that time (with exception of the Second World War) at 8 p.m. buglers from the local fire brigade have sounded the Last Post — the traditional military salute to a fallen warrior — in honor of the missing soldiers. This year the Last Post will be heard from the stairs in front of Laird — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. I would encourage you to pause for a moment at that time to remember our veterans and their sacrifices.

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