Georgetown Marks Armistice Centenary

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British Defense Attache Gavin Parker (left) places wreath at altar of Christ Church Georgetown Nov.11. Photo courtesy Gavin Parker.

Georgetowners marked the centenary of the Armistice with a solemn International Service of Remembrance at Christ Church on Sunday, Nov. 11, attended by representatives from nations involved in World War I.

The war ended on Nov. 11, 1918. One hundred years later, bells rang out in communities across the world in commemoration.

Inside Christ Church, there was a packed congregation (many were left standing) led by Rector Timothy Cole. At the beginning of the service, wreaths were placed at the altar by various embassy defense attachés to represent the thousands of fallen Allied heroes.

The altar was further bedecked with poppies, the international icon of remembrance, creating a vibrant scene on a somber occasion.

World War I, also known as the Great War and the Forgotten War, claimed some 40 million military and civilian lives. America entered the war in 1917, and sacrificed over 116,000 men and women.

Many Georgetowners, including Armistead Peter of Tudor Place, were among the military volunteers who valiantly went “over there.”

The national anthem, “God Save the Queen” and “I Vow to Thee, My Country” were some of the patriotic hymns sung to the accompaniment of the Royal Marines Band Service. After the service, a bagpiper stood on O Street while guests filed into a champagne reception attended by British Ambassador Kim Darroch and his wife, Vanessa.

The day before, there was more pomp and ceremony — although of a slightly different genre — at Pershing Park, the site of the National World War I Memorial, still under construction after years of bureaucratic delays. Kiowa Tribal Elder Ralph Zotigh, a descendant of a World War I veteran, blessed the site, performing a traditional Native American song.

The blessing was part of a larger celebration of Native American contributions to World War I, which remains the only 20th-century war without a national memorial in Washington, D.C.

The United States World War One Centennial Commission is raising $50 million to turn Pershing Park, across from the Willard Hotel, into the memorial the veterans’ families deserve. The centerpiece of the memorial will be a powerful visual narrative by sculptor Sabin Howard called “The Soldier’s Journey.”

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