November 11, 1918 marked the end of World War I. The German surrender was signed in a railcar in a forest in Compiègne, France at 5 AM. The “war to end all wars” was officially over at 11:00 AM, but many thousands died in the intervening six hours. The total death toll was over 1,000,000 Frenchmen, in addition to enormous property losses. The final French casualty was Augustin Trébuchon who died at 10:45 AM, while spreading the news that they were going to be served hot soup after 11:00 AM. What a waste.
The surrender site and railcar became a national monument. In 1940, Hitler forced the French to surrender in that same car. When he realized that another German defeat was imminent, he had the railcar destroyed to avoid a re-enactment of 1918.
Je me souviens (sjuh muh soo-vee-N) means “I remember.” Let’s take a moment to remember all those who died in this, and all wars, including those still being fought. Lest we forget.