Local groups, including Veterans for Peace, Friday will recall the hopes of peoples for an end to war when the Armistice ending World War I on the Western Front was celebrated 93 years ago on Nov. 11, 1918.
Bells rang throughout many lands as the guns fell silent across France and Belgium–“the war to end all wars” was over–but the hopes for lasting peace foundered over the repeated conflicts which followed during the remainder of the 20th century and into this. Friday the veterans of those wars will be honored as Veterans Day now coincides with Armistice Day.
The local commemoration, open to the public, is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Clinton Street at Iowa Avenue in Iowa City, and will culminate with ringing bells at 11 a.m. –the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th year of the 21st century in the modern era.
Ed Flaherty, who will preside at the commemoration as president of Chapter 161 of Veterans for Peace, Iowa City, notes that the legislation establishing Armistice Day as a national holiday declared it “…a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace…” He added:
“Too often rhetoric and patriotic symbols are used instead of genuine compassion for the extraordinary sacrifices and service of military personnel. Since 90 per cent of the victims of wars are civilians, honoring veterans alone distracts the public from the awful price paid by those other than members of the military.” Flaherty also noted that Veterans for Peace calls for “waging peace” as well as ending wars and the “terrible” human and financial costs resulting.
Names of Iowa service people killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as those of some civilians known to have been killed in those wars are to be read by those taking part in the commemoration. Also planned are readings of poetry inspired by the wars, including an Armistice Day poem written by a local veteran, Art Small, and read by him. Another local veteran, Tom Baldridge, will ring a historically significant bell of Veterans for Peace at 11 a.m., the time it is hoped local church bells and the bell of Old Capitol will ring as they did in 1918.
Gil Landolt, president of the Des Moines Veterans for Peace chapter, also will speak.