Tuesday, 08 November 2022
Written by Joseph Reagan
The 11th hour has become synonymous with Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day, in recognition of the document signed at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.
In reality, the Armistice ending the war to end all wars was signed around 5 a.m. on November 11th. Over the course of the next 6 hours, nearly 3,000 men would lose their lives in the final hours of a war that had already claimed the lives of 20 million military personnel.
The final death of WWI came at 10:59 a.m. one minute before the guns of war would fall silent.
Private Henry Gunther was a German-American drafted in the fall of 1917. Most accounts state that his final actions were motivated by Gunther’s need to demonstrate that he was “courageous and all-American.” A chaplain from Gunther’s unit recounted, “As 11 a.m. approached, Gunther suddenly rose with his rifle and ran through thick fog. His men shouted for him to stop. So did the Germans. But Gunther kept running and firing. One machine gun blast later, he was dead. His death was recorded at 10:59 a.m.
In every conflict, inevitably a final service member pays the ultimate sacrifice.
In the closing days of World War II, Private Charley Havlat, the son of Czech immigrants, found himself liberating his parents’ former homeland. During a reconnaissance patrol near the town of Volary on May 7, 1945, enemy fire from a woodline hit the patrol, wounding several and killing Havlat. Word of the cease-fire reached Havlat’s position minutes after he was killed.
Officially, the U.S. has never declared a final casualty in the Korean War. Since the armistice was signed, nearly 100 U.S. soldiers have been killed in combat on the Korean peninsula.
On April 29, 1975, Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge were two of a small number of Marines tasked with safeguarding the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. McMahon had been in Saigon only 11 days, and was 11 days shy of his 22nd birthday. Judge, 19, had arrived in early March. They were killed in a rocket attack. The U.S. would complete the process of withdrawing from Saigon the following day. Initial reports said their bodies had been evacuated. In fact, they were left behind. McMahon and Judge were repatriated Feb. 22, 1976, following diplomatic efforts led by Senator Edward Kennedy.
Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss was among the last of the 2,461 service members who died in Afghanistan. Knauss and 12 of his comrades were killed when suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds at Hamid Karzai International Airport during the withdrawal from Kabul. Assigned to the 8th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, Knauss was supporting the noncombatant evacuation operation. He had previously served in Afghanistan as an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division.
In every war, there is always one that must fill the dignified but dubious role in history as being the last to give the full measure of devotion. Each year on the 11th day of the 11th month as a nation we pause, not only to honor those that have given their lives, but for all those who believed so deeply in American exceptionalism that they were willing to risk their lives to defend it.
For most Americans, talking about war is conceptual, something learned through history books, news reports and movies — those who have served do not know that luxury.
Not only should we remember that the democratic principles we hold so dear have been defended by generations of Americans whom we honor on Veterans Day, but more importantly, we should take inspiration from that sacrifice. Our country, despite all our self-imposed differences, needs to look to our veterans and see that there are no divisions in a foxhole — there are only those who stand in defense of democracy and those who stand against it.
While we may only celebrate Veterans Day with a few moments of silence each year, we have an opportunity to use those moments to find our own way to serve as part of our commitment to living up to the legacy of our veterans.
When the Armistice was signed in 1918, when the Japanese surrendered, and when the last flights departed Saigon and Kabul — these were not simply endings, they were new beginnings. We honor those who serve by recommitting ourselves to making the sacrifices necessary to preserve our way of life.
As Adlai Stevenson once stated, “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” Let this Veterans Day be a new beginning. Go forth and find a way to serve our nation, our communities and each other — we owe it to our veterans.
Editor’s Note: Joseph Reagan served eight years as an active duty officer in the U.S. Army, including two tours to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division. He is a graduate of Norwich University, the oldest private military college in the country.
Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission — Remember, Honor, Teach — is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as at thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. For more information or to sponsor a wreath please visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
Tuesday, 01 November 2022
Written by Jimmy Jones
Their reaction to the City Charter referendum looks like the Fayetteville City Council is scared of this vote. For those who need help understanding, some people want to change the City Council's structure by converting four council seats from district seats to citywide seats. Currently, the 10-person council has nine district seats plus the Mayor, who is elected citywide. "Citywide" means "at-large." So, the citizens of Fayetteville would get a total of six votes. One for Mayor, one for their district, and four additional representatives who can live anywhere within the city.
The Mayor's position is an "at-large" position, and if that works for the Mayor, then why wouldn't it work for City Council? Wait, are we saying that the Mayor's position does not or cannot represent the whole city? I don't think we are, but if you interpret this one way, then you have to ask that question to the other. If memory serves, someone gathered a petition of 5,000 signatures which was required to put it on the November ballot. However, the City Council voted not to allow it on the ballot. It went to court, and a judge ordered it on the ballot.
Ask yourself why the Council would refuse it. I have heard this is a Democrat and Republican thing, but that cannot be because the City Council members are supposed to be nonpartisan representatives. The talk on the street is that this is a matter of race. Has anyone looked at the makeup of the City Council? There are representatives of multiple races. Now, let us look at the last Mayoral and City Council election in July. In a city of 210,000 people, only 14,800 voted, with 4,000+ done by mail-in or early voting. Here are a few statistics from a Spectrum News 1 article on July 27 about the City Council election. "The District 7 race between Brenda McNair and incumbent Larry Wright was very close. McNair has 679 votes, 23 more than Wright. The margin in District 3 is even closer. Mario Benavente has 1,012 votes, just six more than incumbent Antonio Jones." In two seats, the total count difference was 29 votes.
For those who can vote and are not happy with the direction of Fayetteville, then change the rules because you have nothing to lose if you want more choices. Change the rules; you have nothing to lose. If you want more representation, then change the rules. You have nothing to lose.
If the City Council had a record of doing good - ensuring low crime, providing a safer place city, better job opportunities, fewer taxes and lowering the homeless rate - then why should they worry about their positions? If the City Council made it their priority to make it easy to make a living, start a business, or keep a business going, then why should they worry about a referendum? If the city focused on making Fayetteville a city with a great reputation, then why should the City Council worry about the referendum?
What is important to you is why you should Vote Yes or Vote No.