When World War I finally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it was thought to have been "the war to end all wars." Oh, but if that were true.
One year later, president Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day.
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations ..." Wilson said.
The concurrent resolution passed by Congress in 1926 describes Nov. 11, 1918 as "the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far-reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed."
Sadly, the "war to end all wars" wasn't. World War II followed two decades later, and after that came Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War with Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and the second war with Iraq.
The war in Afghanistan continues. U.S. troop levels there have been reduced in recent months, but there were still some 54,500 stationed in late September, according to the Military Times website.
This will be the first Veteran's Day in several years in which White Sands Missile Range does not have troops deployed overseas. Members of the 40th Mobility Augmentation Co. returned last month from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
"As of today, all of our men and women who are serving on WSMR are united," Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham said upon the unit's return.
The Obama administration has said all combat forces will be pulled from Afghanistan by the end of next year.
While we are hopeful the president will be able to stick to that timetable, we are also a little more savvy than our ancestors of nearly a century ago. No war, no matter how horrific, will be our last. There will always be threats to our safety and security that can only be dealt with through a strong military.
It is good to remember how Veteran's Day came to be -- the idealism of that time and the harsh reality that has followed.
This Veteran's Day, there is hope that the long wars that came in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001 are either ended or winding down. But the dangers remain.
We offer our gratitude to all of those -- from the aging WWII vets to the young men and women now returning from Afghanistan -- who have defended our freedom, as well as to those preparing to do so in the future.