Gratitude Friday: Our Veterans

The timing of our trip to Champagne was quite good from a historical appreciation standpoint.  The sunday of our departure was Armistice Day.  This day commemorates the ending of WWI in 1918, specifically on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
It overlaps with the US Veterans Day and the British Commonwealth’s Remembrance Day.  For France, thinking about WWI and Armistice Day, this war had a catastrophic impact – 1.4 million, or 4.29% of their population died.   An incremental 10% of their population were soldiers wounded in military action.

Witnessing an Armistice Day ceremony in Reims as we drove by at 11:15, within the 11th hour.

Our Champagne guide was a historical fiction writer and wove a lot of the history into our tour. We passed dozens of cemetaries and trench lines between our cellar visits, to develop our appreciation for the historical and military significance of the region.  The Battle of the Marne occurred right in the heart of Champagne country.  Verdun, where approximately a million soldiers lost their lives, is 100km away.

French graveyard containing fallen soldiers of WWI

British graveyard, looking like an English garden

In France, the Germans graveyard is absent of the white symbolism of peace

One of our guide’s remarks really stuck with me. He commented that if you say the name Champagne anywhere in the world, the immediate feeling is joy and celebration.  However, there has been such a history of sadness and bloodshed in this famous region.

Each town, no matter how tiny, has a monument for their men lost in the Great War.

I have a profound appreciation for our United States veterans who currently serve and who have served to provide a safe and free country for the rest of us.  My father and grandfathers included.   And with extreme reverence, I am thankful to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for my country.  I have only had the honor of knowing one solider personally.  But, as do many, feel indebted the family and loved ones for those who I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing, but gave much for me.
And specifically for Armistice Day, I am grateful we were able to experience this.   Reflecting on the pain and sacrifice that another country has made in its history was a good lesson for me to expound on my own way of thinking.  The realize the hurt and pain that others around the world have felt.  Really, we have more similarities than differences.
Bon weekend, everyone!
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