The Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Hour . . .

Veterans’ Day – originally called Armistice Day to mark the end of hostilities during World War I. Today is the one-hundredth anniversary of that day, so full of joy – for the Allies – but only the beginning of a twenty year interlude before the final settling of scores in the Second World War. 

Today, I remember an ancestor of mine who served in both conflicts – my great uncle Bill Wickham. In World War I, he served in France with the Engineer Corps. In the second, he stayed stateside and perhaps stayed on after the war. He died at Fort Lewis, Washington in 1947. [1]

 

William Wickham - WWI

William Wickham was brother to my grandmother, from whom I received the photo shown above. [2] In her diaries, Grandma mentions “Billy” often – during their school days in Norwalk, Ohio, and later when they both homesteaded clams in Wyoming during the 1920s. He died long before her, in 1947, and she was executor of his estate. In her papers I found her correspondence relating to that sad event – papers I will soon send off to his grandson. Although Grandma often told me stories of her long life, she never mentioned her brother to me. I wish she had.

So here is to you, Uncle Bill. Thank you for your service. I am sorry I never got to know you.  

 

Footnotes:

[1] “Hold Services for Maj Wickham,” Sandusky Register Star News, Sandusky, Ohio, 20 Feb 1947.

[2[ Papers Harriott Wickham Barton, in possession of the author.

 

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A Terrible Harmony

Armistice RailcarIn Compiègne, France, at 5 a.m. ninety-nine years ago today, the allies signed an armistice with Germany that was to take effect in six hours – “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” How many men died in those next six hours to achieve that numeric harmony?

Today, let us remember those men – and all others who have died in this thing we call war.

 

Note: Photo is of the rail car where the Armistice was signed. From Wikimedia Commons. In the public domain.

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