One hundred years of armistice commemorated

Edzrodzi Agbozo, Lode Writer

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When the Benin international musician Angélique Kidjo was singing a remembrance song in the Ewe language of West Africa in front of world leaders like Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, and Nicolas Macron in France, students, faculty and community members of the Copper Country also gathered to commemorate 100 years of the Armistice. It was a solemn and cold winter Sunday morning when the event took place at the World War I Firing Trench (US-41 and MacInnes Drive) as participants braced the weather to pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives in the great war.

The public were welcomed with a bagpipe performance of “The Flowers of the Forest” and the distribution of paper poppies. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh month of the year, all the bells in Houghton were tolled in synchrony for thirty seconds. When the tolling of bells ended, the Michigan Tech Joint Color Guard, consisting of Air Force and Army ROTC cadets presented the colors. This was followed by singing the U.S. National Anthem. Sue Collins, associate professor of communication, culture, & media in the department of humanities gave a short speech in which she narrated a brief history of WW1 and the Armistice. She then thanked everyone who contributed in various ways to make the commemoration a success.

Poet M. Bartley Seigel, associate professor of creative writing and diverse literatures in the department of humanities then read Walt Whitman’s poem “The Wound Dresser”. A prayer offering was made and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Hubbell post firing party fired a 21-gun salute. Taps were played by a formation of local student buglers. The Michigan Tech Joint Color Guard then retired the colors. The ceremony concluded with the dropping of attendees’ poppies into the trench as they disperse. Refreshments were also offered in the Wads Annex for all participants.

This ceremony marked the end of the Copper Country’s commemoration of World War 1. The commemoration started in Jun. 21, 2018 and involved many activities including series of historical exhibits, lectures, discussions, film screenings, media installations, and performing and visual arts events. The community-wide commemoration was organized by Patty Sotirin, Sue Collins, Stefka Hristova, who are professors in the communication and culture section of the Humanities Department and Steve Walton, professor of history in the Department of Social Sciences. The project received funding from the Michigan Humanities Council, Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission, Finlandia Foundation National Chapter, and Michigan Council on Arts and Community Affairs through the Copper Country Community Arts Center. Michigan Technological University, the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, and Finlandia University also partnered the project.

Derived from Latin arma, “arms” and -stitium, “a stopping”, an armistice is an agreement between parties involved in a war to stop fighting. Since it may constitute only a cease-fire in an attempt to negotiate lasting peace, it may not necessarily end a war. Also known as the Armistice of Compiègne, the Armistice of Nov. 11 1918 was the agreement that ended fighting on land, sea and air in the first World War between the Allied forces and Germany. It was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France is largely credited with the content. Previous armistices were also signed with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The armistice was prolonged three times until the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on 28 June 28, 1919 took effect on 10 Jan. 10 1920.

*Note: This article was ran on 11/15/2018