Veterans’ Day Abroad

Every November 11th in America, we honor all veterans who have fought for and defended our country. We simply call the day, Veterans’ Day, but some countries throughout the world call it Armistice Day. This day to honor veterans originated after the end of the First World War as a way to honor the millions of military personnel who had been mobilized during this conflict and to honor the 8.5 million personnel who gave their lives between 1914 and 1918. In 1954, Armistice Day was officially changed to Veterans Day and has since become a day where we honor all the brave men and women who have served our country.

This year, Veterans Day takes on a deeper meaning as it marks the 100th anniversary of of the Great War. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, war officially ended.

This day was marked with many solemn ceremonies throughout the world. As an American living in Europe, this year took on a new meaning. On the other side of the continent, world leaders met at France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which lies at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe. The news here covered the events and I was glad to be able to watch the ceremony.

As an American, it’s very easy to get caught in the mindset that the rest of the world holds all the same celebrations and ceremonies that we do. But this is very much not the case. For example, in Moldova, November 11th is just another day. There are a lot of historical reasons, but to leave it brief for now, it goes back to when Moldova was ruled over by other countries. The closest day Moldovans have to Veterans Day is Victory Day (celebrated on May 9th). This day commemorates the surrender of the German Army in 1945 and is celebrated in Many former Soviet Republics and countries that were under its influence.

One of the great things of living with host families is learning and hearing stories from my new family. As such, I found out that my first host dad and my current host day served in the military. It seems it was mandatory for men in the USSR to serve for 2 year. I know my first host dad served in the army and my current host dad served in a submarine up north for 3 years. In the future, I hope I’ll hear more about their experiences and stories.

If words can say properly say it, I am very grateful to all the veterans that have served and kept me safe, and I especially want to thank the few that I serve with here in Peace Corps Moldova, as well as the many within my own family, from my great grandpa, grandfather, (great) aunts and uncles, to (my mom and dad’s) cousins, my many friends who are serving, and finally, to my host fathers who served their country with honor. I am forever grateful to you all and to all the countless veterans who have put their lives on the line. Thank you and God bless.

John Gramelspacher

Seen above is a photo of my grandfather from his time in the army during WW1.

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For my Eagle Scout Project, I constructed a Veterans’ Memorial to honor all the veterans that are buried in the cemeteries of a local church, St. James. Inscribed on the list of veterans includes my great grandpa.

 

If you or anyone you know has served and would like to share your stories, I would love to read them in the comments below. As always, enjoy a cup of joe.

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