Eighty-three years ago today, representatives of the allied powers and the German allies met in a railroad coach outside Paris and agreed to an armistice, ending World War I, the so-called “War to end all wars,” a war in which 10 million persons died.
Since that day, November 11 has been set aside as first Armistice Day, later changed to Veterans Day. White Plains CitizeNetReporter salutes and remembers and thanks our veterans on this day which recognizes how special they are. Two events celebrated America’s first veterans last month.
On October 22 at “Washington’s Headquarters,” in White Plains, the Jacob Purdy House, the White Plains Historical Society recognized America’s first veterans. These were the men of White Plains who defended Chatterton Hill and Miller Hill from the advancing British army under General Howe.
GUNSMOKE REMEMBERS THE FIRST VETERANS. The militia men and volunteers who defended White Plains at the Battle of White Plains in 1776 were commemorated October 21, with a volley of remembrance at Jacob Purdy House.WPCNR PHOTO
An elite reenactment contingent of British troops gathered about the flagpole overlooking White Plains below. Old Glory was raised on the flagpole. A volley of gunfire from 18th Century muskets saluted the fallen from that long ago battle. The names of the residents of White Plains who died on those hills 225 years ago were solemnly read from a podium at the steps of the old red home.
The names of three White Plains citizens killed in the World Trade Center attack were added to this distinguished list of America’s first veterans, as Jack Harrington, President of the White Plains Historical Society oversaw the ceremonies.
It strikes WPCNR that these three 2001 citizens were much like those first veterans who defeneded White Plains in 1776. Those first veterans lay down their plows or crafts and took up arms when their town and country was threatened. Some citizens lost everything when British troops burned parts of White Plains after the battle.
We remember our fighting men and women on Veterans Day, because most of them were every day citizens called to duty who went out and did something they did not know they could do. Perform acts of heroism, bravery, losing their lives for the American way. Many were just kids themselves. For example, most B-17 pilots over Germany in World War II were in their early twenties.
NAMES OF AMERICA’S FIRST VETERANS ARE READ AT ENTRANCE TO JACOB PURDY HOUSE. Jack Harrington, President of White Plains Historical Society solemly conducts reading of the White Plains Honor Roll at Battle of White Plains ceremonies October 22.WPCNR PHOTO
We can in no way, or through no motion picture know what any veteran experienced. The veterans who still are with us do not like to talk about their combat experiences. And they do not. One veteran of D-Day, asked what he thought of Saving Private Ryan and the realism of it, said the real D-Day was worse. However, veterans we have interviewed remark that they think of their combat experience every day. It is always with them.
It is inconceivable to me that I could ever be able to do what these men and women did. I would like to hope I could. However, the veterans have. They left ordinary lives as office workers, factory workers, farmers, accountants, and what have you and were able to go to war and “rise to the occasion,” or as they say today, “step it up to the next level.” The highest level.
MAYOR DELFINO UNVEILS HISTORICAL SIGNAGE AT BATTLE HILL. In another effort to commemorate America’s veterans, Mayor Joseph Delfino, working with New York State and local groups unveiled a series of permanent historical signs in Battle Hill-Whitney Park October 28 detailing the Battle Hill and Miller Hill battle grounds of the Battle of White Plains. It is the first effort to produce a heritage trail in the City of White Plains. Other markers of historically significant areas of the city are planned in the near future.WPCNR PHOTO
How should Armistice Day be observed? Well, a thought about the sacrifice of these veterans and those who died perhaps brings new vibrancy and dedication to the ideals for which they fought. A thought to what they considered important enough to leave a safe existence to fight for valiantly at great risk and high valour reinforces those sacred American standards: freedom, the pursuit of happiness, free speech, the big little things.
We should value the sacrifice of our local public defenders, the police, the firefighters, the enforcement officials who routinely do this to keep the fabric of American society safe.