The Rainbow Division Memorial in Aisne France.

The Rainbow Division Memorial in Aisne France.

Veterans Day, November 11, is a special day to honor those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in times of conflict or peace. What makes this Veterans Day even more special is that it has in its origin an event that ended exactly one — hundred years ago. That event was the WorldWorld War I, the Great War or the War to End all Wars.

The spark to ignite the war was the assassination of the heir to the Austrian -Hungarian throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo in the Balkans. The assassin Princip murdered the very person who did not want war, desired a new nation with autonomous states, and was scorned by the Austrian Royal household because he married a person of low nobility. This act was used by the diplomats to begin a holocaust that would result in the death of millions and add new meaning to the Four Horses of the Apocalypse mentioned in Revelation as war, famine, death and disease.

The Great War began on August 1, 1914. The assassination of the Archduke had activated the alliance system between the Central Powers, which included Germany and Austria- Hungary and the Triple Entente, consisting of the French Third Republic, Russian Empire, and the United Kingdom.

The US entered the war on April 2, 1917. Some four million Americans would serve with some two and a half million serving overseas. One of the units sent overseas was Company D of the Iowa National Guard, which was from Appanoose County. This company became part of the 42nd Infantry Division or the Rainbow Division because it was made up of units from twenty-six states of the US. Company D was placed in the 84th Infantry Brigade, 168th Infantry Regiment. The division landed in France in November 1917 and trained with allied units before going to the front. The division would eventually be commanded by Brigadier General Douglas McArthur. The unit would be part of the biggest offensives of the end of the war: Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, Saint Mihiel and Meuse Argonne.

At the eleventh hour, the 11th day and the 11th month of 1918, the war ended.

Some twenty million soldiers and civilians lost their lives. The wounded totaled some twenty-one million. Moreover, the civilian tally deaths from starvation by the sea blockade by the British Navy would cause deaths into late 1919. The US lost some one hundred and seventeen thousand lives (The Great Influenza outbreak was responsible for 45,000 deaths). Two hundred thousand were wounded in the war.

The world changed. International communism would cause even more human suffering. New countries were founded and borders redefined. The war would set back the agricultural, economic and sanitation and health of many nations — not just in Europe, but around the world. Wars continued soon after. The tragedy of WWI is that following it there was really no peace. In addition, the international bankers continued to cash in on the sufferings of others.

The American Legion was formed in Paris, France in 1919, by US Veterans of the war. The origin of many American Legion Posts can be traced to service members who served in WWI. Some would lose their lives.

In Appanoose County, posts would be formed in Centerville (214), Moulton (280), Mystic (340), Moravia (361), and Unionville (407). In Unionville, Post 407 is named for three Company D soldiers who did not come home. The abbreviation Wil-Rog-Mor was used for I.J. Rogers, E.R. Wilcox and M.B. Morrison.

To honor those who died in the war from the US Armistice Day was created. In 1954, the name of this special day was changed to Veterans Day. We must also remember the POW/MIA would did not return from the conflicts the US has been involved in. Please remember to thank a Veteran for their service and for the freedoms we have in America.

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