David McCartney is retired University of Iowa Archivist, a position he held from 2001 until 2022. He delivered these remarks on November 11, 2022 at the Veterans for Peace event on Iowa City’s Ped Mall.
Thank you all for joining us this morning as we observe Armistice Day.
The original intent of this day, and our observance of it at this hour, is to commemorate the agreement that ended the First World War, an agreement signed in France between Germany and the Allied forces.
It was a prelude to peace negotiations, beginning on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. Armistice is Latin for “to stand or still arms.”
By an act of Congress in 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day. Some, including the novelist Kurt Vonnegut and Rory Fanning of Veterans for Peace, have urged the U.S. to resume observation of November 11th as Armistice Day, a day to reflect on how we can achieve peace as it was originally observed.
It is in that spirit that we honor the original intent of Armistice Day this morning by honoring all victims of war, including those who resisted war, those who have advocated for peace.