Here is a glance at the end of two pivotal eras in both world and American history that occurred this week, and have played a key role in the development of our shared past.
On Nov. 11, 1918, 101 years ago, World War I ended. Per the terms of the armistice agreement signed between Germany and the Allied powers, a ceasefire was called at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, ending one of the bloodiest conflicts the world had ever seen. The Great War, as it was called before World War II, claimed the lives of nine million soldiers and wounded 21 million more. Amidst the destruction, five million civilians were killed by widespread disease and starvation, which killed just as indiscriminately as the bullets.
The war began four years prior due largely in part to the complicated relationships between the European nations and their worldwide empires. In June of 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Because of this, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia and Russia, an ally of Serbia, joined the war. Germany was an ally of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so they declared war on Russia. France was an ally of Russia, so they declared war on Germany. When the German army attacked France, they invaded Belgium, which was allied with Great Britain, bringing the British into the war against Germany. The United States joined the war three years later, following the German bombing of the passenger ship Lusitania which was carrying American passengers.
In celebration of the end of “the war to end all wars,” nations of the world rejoiced with the celebration of Armistice Day, a holiday celebrated on Nov. 11 both in the U.S. and abroad as a way to promote world peace. Because world peace was short lived, with the World War II beginning 20 years later, Armistice Day was revoked. Instead, the U.S. decided to recognize and adopt Veterans Day, a holiday to commemorate and honor the sacrifices made by our brave soldiers from World War I and every war since.
On Nov. 12, 1954, 65 years ago, Ellis Island closed its doors after more than 60 years of operation. Arguably the most famous immigration station in American history, Ellis Island opened in 1892, welcoming 15-year-old Annie Moore from Ireland, who became the first to pass through the famed doors. The immigration center would process an average of 5,000 immigrants a day, welcoming a total of 12 million immigrants into the U.S. Ellis Island would particularly see the arrival of Southern and Eastern Europeans from countries like Italy, Russia, Poland, Greece and Serbia. Today, more than 40% of the American population can trace their roots back through Ellis Island, including the writer of this column.
Gino Giansanti is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.