By Christopher Overfelt

On Thursday, November 11th, members of Peaceworks KC and the Kansas City chapter of Veterans for Peace celebrated a day of peace at the World War I memorial. Known as Veteran’s Day here in the U.S., November 11 is celebrated across Europe as Armistice Day in remembrance of the end of World War I. Armistice Day used to be observed here in the U.S. until Congress changed the name to Veteran’s Day shortly after World War II. Instead of a day celebrating the value of peace in our lives, Veteran’s Day has become a glorification of war and U.S. militarism.

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Photos by Jim Hannah.

Reclaiming Armistice Day has become a cause advocated by VFP and Peaceworks KC. Every November 11th, a gathering is held by Veterans for Peace at the entrance to the World War I memorial. At 11 am, a bell is rung eleven times in remembrance of Armistice Day. This year, three members of Peaceworks KC spoke at the event. Mary Hladky spoke about her experience as a mother of a veteran. “I wholeheartedly support the Veterans For Peace initiative to Reclaim Armistice Day,” she said in her remarks. “Returning it to its original intent – a day set aside to celebrate peace. In 1918, the people of the world were mourning the loss of 40 million people, both military and civilian, calling for an end to all war, fully realizing that it is utterly futile to use war-making to achieve peace.”

Spencer Graves spoke as well, saying “Hundreds of thousands of people have died from US-led anti-terrorism actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, who had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks. Maybe a few dozen did. Not one of those people killed had a fair trial. Not one was informed of the nature of the alleged crimes for which they were executed. Not one had an opportunity to defend themselves in court.”

Henry Stoever was the last to speak, adding “We must reclaim the original intent and purpose of Armistice Day, a cessation of warfare, in all of its forms and practices. Let us rededicate and work together with renewed purpose to make cessation of warfare a reality.”

I rang the bell 11 times and gave the closing statement. A PeaceWorks-KC board member and a member of Veterans for Peace, I said, “Peace is precious. As you leave here and go about your day, I wish you all peace in your hearts, minds, and physical lives as well.” 

See the Nov. 11 talks by Mary Hladky, Spencer Graves, and Henry Stoever on this website. Copyright 2021, Christopher Overfelt, Jim Hannah, Mary Hladky, Henry Stoever, Veterans for Peace, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.