On this day, Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day, we commemorate the cessation of hostilities during World War I (but not the end of the war—at least between Germany and the Allied Powers—, which officially ended when The Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June, 1919*). In the US, Armistice Day—remembering peace as well as the sacrifice of soldiers—has become Veterans Day—remembering the service of soldiers.
In Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday! (1973) Philboyd Studge writes:
When I was a boy [...] all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
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.
* alternatively, some may consider that the First World War ended last year, when Germany finally paid the last of its reparations.