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Death/Duty Day

Death/Duty Day honors those that lost their lives fighting in World War I on its last day, which was November 11, 1918. Just after 5:00 AM, an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, which would take effect at 11:00 AM. Although it was known that the war would end in hours, fighting continued until 11:00 AM, and 2,738 men lost their lives. Some artillery units continued firing at the Germans, as they didn't want to have to haul away spare ammunition. Some wanted to punish the Germans as well. The last death of the war was Henry Gunther, who died about a minute before the ceasefire went into effect. Gunther charged the Germans, who were surprised at his advance, and initially tried to wave him off, to no avail. Gunther's fellow troops were later interviewed, and it was ascertained that Gunther had felt bad about a recent reduction in rank, and likely charged to try to redeem himself before his officers and fellow soldiers.

How to Observe Death/Duty Day

On this day, reflect on the loss of life that occurred on the final day of World War I, when it was already known that the war would be ending that day. The television series Timewatch produced a documentary titled Last Day of World War One, that could be viewed. There are many World War I films, such as Paths of Glory, Joyeux Noël, and All Quiet on the Western Front that could be viewed on this day as well. Books about the final day of the war, such as Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour could be read.

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