November 8, 2018

They also loved and were loved

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, one hundred years ago an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany bringing an end to hostilities on the Western Front of World War I.

The number of human lives lost in World War I likely exceeded 20 million. Of course, World War I was then called the Great War. It was “the war to end all wars,” or at least that is what westerners in 1918 thought.

The first Armistice Day was marked at Buckingham Palace by King George V on November 11, 1919. At the outbreak of World War II, many countries changed the name of the holiday, since it could not commemorate an armistice—and a peace—that no longer existed. Commonwealth Nations adopted Remembrance Day.

The red poppy became the emblem of Remembrance Day from the poem “In Flanders Fields” famously written by Canadian military physician John McCrae. After reading the poem, Moina Michael, a professor at the University of Georgia, wrote the poem, “We Shall Keep the Faith,” and committed to wearing a red poppy each year. The custom spread to Europe and the countries of the British Empire within three years.

Animals served alongside the soldiers in World War I, and a depressingly long list of wars since. Mules, donkeys, dogs, even camels and elephants served. Estimates are that nine of 16 million military animals died in that war alone.

So, on this 100th anniversary of that armistice, as we remember the sacrifice of the war dead, please take a moment to also remember the animal combatants who also gave their lives and also lie in Flanders fields.

Bruce Roney

President and CEO