240 and Counting

by Steve Lancaster11/10/15

My friends tomorrow is Veterans Day, the eleventh month, the eleventh day and the eleventh hour, a special symbolism to mark the end of WW I, or the Great War as it was known at the time. We will mark the day by marking the graves of our honored dead on all the battlefields of our history. Some will place flowers or wreaths on graves, others will devote a few moments of silence. Wherever we are we will stand a little prouder because of the sacrifice of these men and women.

Today is the 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. As Marines we hold a special tie to all of the veterans who fought for our country, but a special bonding for those who fought at our side at Belleau Wood, Peleus, Hue, Fallujah and the thousands of other fields Marines have held the wall against the barbarians.

The true story of the choice of November 11 end WWI

John Pershing had a real problem. It was the end of October 1918 and the German army was pulling back in the face of renewed offensive of the allies. Peace feelers had gone out from the German government and it was likely a ceasefire would occur shortly. Pershing’s problem was with a segment of his army, the USMC. Pershing knew that peace without marching down the streets of Berlin would be taken hard by the Marines and they just might take it on their own to continue the war until total victory was achieved.

Pershing also knew that his Marines were a sentimental lot and on November 10 they would be celebrating the birthday of the Corps with a huge meal and lots of alcohol, making most of them unfit for duty until late in the day on the 11th. If the ceasefire could be arranged while the Marines were still sleeping then when they awoke it would be a fact they could not disagree with and refrain from continuing the war. We Marines understand Pershing’s reasons, but if we had been allowed to finish the job in 1918 we are sure we would not have had to go back in 1941.


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3 Responses to 240 and Counting

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    An interesting interpretation of the Armistice, though I imagine it was set more by circumstances (such as Wilson’s refusal to offer an armistice to the Kaiser) and by Ferdinand Foch (in overall nominal charge of the Allied armies in France).

    We don’t pay that much attention to Veteran’s Day, though I’ll probably be playing a lot of patriotic music from several CD images (including my collection of Sousa music). We do decorate several graves in Sweeden on Memorial Day in honor of their service from World War II to Vietnam.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m partial to the notion of Patton kicking the asses of the Russians all the way back to Moscow and to MacArthur nuking (if necessary) the Chinese in the Korean war. I’d not heard of an scenario about Marines parading down Berlin Blvd. Who knows what happen if you could rewind the clock. Certainly history is full of half-measure that turned bad.

    My hat is off to those men and women who have endured hardships to defend liberty, at home and abroad. They’re often given thankless tasks by incompetent commanders. I’m not sure how they handle that. I guess they have a job to do and they do it and bad commanders are just part of the landscape.

    But there are good ones too.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I have a couple of alternate histories which involve a war with the Soviets after the end of World War II, but unfortunately they’re currently in the bags we have in storage as we slowly prepare for the exterminators to get rid of the bedbugs and cockroaches.

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