Commemorating Armistice Day 100 Years Later
-Allow Some Time to be Still and Sit in Silence-
One hundred years ago yesterday, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, millions of soldiers laid down their guns to stop the fighting in order to bring an end to the first world war. This act lead to the first Armistice Day after a signed official document ordered a ceasefire after more than 10 million combatants and six million civilians died.
The first Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, saw cheering crowds on the streets of Allied countries such as Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, New Zealand, and the United States. Beginning the following year, Armistice Day (known as Veterans Day in the U.S.), became a more formal and somber commemoration. A dedicated time for silence often marked future ceremonies. A two-minute silence was observed beginning in 1919 across the Commonwealth and a minute de silence in France beginning in 1922.
As a result, over time, a period of silence became a time for reflection, introspection, and respect for those who lost their lives and were injured. The family and friends most closely affected by the sacrifices of their loved ones also received respect.
Scripture and Silence
The Christian scriptures encourage silence. “Be still and know that I am God (Ps 46.10)” is a powerful verse when we understand these words as being personally spoken to us by God. “Listen to me in silence (Isa 41.1)” is another such verse as well as “Be still before the Lord (Ps 37.7). We can respond be saying “It is good to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it (Lam.3.27-28)” or by saying “For God alone my soul waits (Ps 62.1)” or “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits (Ps 130.5)” as a way of heeding to God’s encouragement to be silent.
You are encouraged to take some time today and be silent as a means to commemorate what happened 100 years ago. Let your time of silence be a time for reflection, introspection, and respect for those who gave their lives and were injured and the surviving family members who have not forgotten, or may have forgotten, what their grandparents or great grandparents or other family members did. Perhaps you have forgotten what a great relative(s) did. Perhaps you have not forgotten and what to honor the family member.
Connecting to a commemoration in silence may end with you breaking the silence by praying for those who are still dealing with the aftermath of this war and for no more war. If so, let it be at the end of an appropriate period of silence and let it not end premature. “Let him (or her) sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him (or her) (Lamentations 3.28).”