“Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not. So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.”
Kurt Vonnegut quote, from Breakfast of Champions
At the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month in 1918, an Armistice ended World War I, in which 10 million people were killed and another 20 million were wounded. Bells rang in joy throughout the world to celebrate the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In 1926, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution that set aside Nov. 11 as Armistice Day, to commemorate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.” Congress also invited “the people of the United States to observe the day . . . with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” In 1938 Congress passed a law that made Armistice Day a day dedicated to World Peace.
In 1954, its name was changed to “Veterans Day,” which our nation currently celebrates. This holiday focuses on the military and veterans. But even with that name change, President Eisenhower asked Americans to dedicate themselves to the cause of Peace.
The Twin Cities chapter of Veterans for Peace would like to return this day to the original intention of Armistice Day, a day of remembrance of the awful costs of war and of peaceful vows to never war again. This year our local Veterans For Peace chapter will celebrate and promote the original meaning of this holiday at the Landmark Center through music and readings from this time period. At 11 a.m. bells will ring.
These bells were hand-cast by 11 veterans under the guidance of local sculptor Gita Ghei.
Keynote speakers are Greg Boertje-Obed and Michele Naar-Obed, a married couple from Duluth, who tirelessly work for Peace. Greg is a member of the Duluth/Superior Chapter of Veterans For Peace, and a former Lieutenant is the U.S. Army. He is also a member of the Transform Now Plowshares group with Sister Megan Rice and Michael Wali, and is a part of the Catholic Worker Movement, started by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. He lived at the Jonah House peace community for 17 years with Phil Berrigan and Liz McCallister, and is the father of Rachael Obed.
Besides her involvement in nuclear disarmament, Michele has worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams, a violence reduction/human rights team, in both Baghdad and the Kurdish north of Iraq. She helped to pave the way for the 5th official Sister City of Rania,