In two days, we will mark the original reason we commemorate November 11th each year: the Armistice (the formal cessation of hostilities) on that day of World War I in 1918, 101 years ago. It attests to the enduring need for competent and attentive leadership and that those often fitted to the occasion are raised up to fulfill it.
“Our first thought, then, is to acknowledge the obligation which the Nation owes to those who served in our forces afloat and ashore, which contributed the indispensable factor to the final victory. Although all our people became engaged in this great conflict, some in furnishing money, some in producing food and clothing, some in making munitions, some in administering our Government, the place of honor will always be accorded to the men and the women who wore the uniform of our country–the living and the dead.
“When the great conflict finally broke upon us we were unprepared to meet its military responsibilities. What Navy we possessed at that time, as is always the case with our Navy, was ready. Admiral Sims at once carried new courage and new energy to the contest on the sea. So complete was the defense of our transports that the loss by enemy attack in sending our land forces to Europe was surprisingly small.
“As we study the record of our Army in France, we become more and more impressed by three outstanding features. The unity of the American forces and the integrity of the American command were always preserved. They were trained with a thoroughness becoming the tradition of McClellan, they were fought with tenacity and skill worthy of the memory of Grant. And finally, they were undefeated. For these outstanding accomplishments, which were the chief sources of the glory of our arms, we are indebted to the genius of General Pershing.
“It is unnecessary to recount with any detail our experience in the war. It was a new revelation, not only of the strength, but of the unity of our people. No country ever exhibited a more magnificent spirit or demonstrated a higher degree of patriotic devotion. The great organizing ability of our industrial leaders, the unexpected strength of our financial resources, the dedication of our entire man power under the universal service law, the farm and the factory, the railroad and the bank, 4,000,000 men under arms and 6,000,000 men in reserve, all became one mighty engine for the prosecution of the war. All together it was the greatest power that any nation on earth had ever assembled.”
— Calvin Coolidge, November 11, 1928.