Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Help Commemorate Armistice and Veterans Day 2018

Last year on behalf of the World War One Centennial Commission, we asked our readers to suggest inscriptions for the new National Memorial at Pershing Square. The response was tremendous and greatly appreciated by the Commission.  Once again we have been asked to help with the planning of  part of the commemorations of the war.  This time it's the 1918–2018 Armistice Day Remembrance which will be held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.  We are being asked to recommend musical selections, both hymns and period song, and suitable readings.

The National Cathedral

Here is some background information on the event the Commission has provided:

National Cathedral Interfaith Service

An Interfaith Service will take place the morning of Sunday 11 November 1918, at the National Cathedral  in Washington, DC. The ceremony itself will be an interfaith service with a special emphasis on WWI and will include original and period musical performances, hymns, and readings.

The National Cathedral will webcast this event. The Commission will, additionally, distribute a template for a WWI service that other organizations and institutions can distribute and/or use for a local WWI-themed 11 November service.

The ceremony will climax at 11am ET when the National Cathedral will toll its bells in honor of the commencement of the Armistice that ended the fighting in the Great War. This bell-tolling will kick-off of the National Bell-Tolling.

Examples (These are from your editor, not the Commission):

A.  Reading

This year we have special and moving cause to be grateful and to rejoice. God has in His good pleasure given us peace. It has not come as a mere cessation of arms, a mere relief from the strain and tragedy of war. It has come as a great triumph of right. Complete victory has brought us, not peace alone, but the confident promise of a new day as well in which justice shall replace force and jealous intrigue among the nations.

— President Woodrow Wilson, Thanksgiving Day Message, 1918 

B.  Music

1.  Period Music:  There's a Long Long Trail A-Winding

2. Hymn: Battle Hymn of the Republic

2017 Veterans Day Concert at the National Cathedral

How To Submit Your Suggestions:

There are  three ways to submit your recommendations. These can be done anonymously or with your name and  address or home town included. Submissions are needed by 1 October 2017.

1.  Through Roads to the Great War, just publish in the comments section to this page.

2.  Send it to me via email to:
(For methods 1 and 2 I'll aggregate them with your name and send them to Commissioner Edwin Fountain.)

3.  Send directly to Commissioner Edwin Fountain:

This is a chance for you to make a lasting contribution to the effort to honor the service and sacrifices of all those American who served in the war.

Please use you social media and connections to other organization to pass the message on. Submissions are needed by 15 May 2018.

Thanks for your support,

Mike Hanlon, Editor/Publisher


  1. Alan Seeger's "I Have a Rendezvous with Death" should be included. I suppose Battle Hymn of the Republic is appropriate but I'd prefer something similar in tone but less associated with the Civil War. Can't think of one offhand, though.

  2. "The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat" would be my suggestion for a poem, but I think they used that one last April in KC, so I'm not sure they'd wanna dip in that well again.

    Are all the period the readings supposed to be religious in nature?

  3. Do you know if any determination has been made yet regarding the inscriptions we submitted?

    1. Obviously I don't know, but i'd have to think until they start building the thing, it's all up for debate.

  4. I would recommend: Eternal Father, Strong to Save. Better known as "The Navy Hymn", the original words were written as a poem in 1860 by William Whiting of Winchester, England. The melody, published in 1861, was composed by fellow Englishman, Rev. John Bacchus Dykes, an Episcopalian clergyman. It has since been updated to include all services. Most notably, the first update was for airmen written by Mary C. Hamilton in 1915. Various paragraphs/stances have been added over the year to cover all our military forces. Additionally, it has been sung at the funerals of at least two US Presidents. Personally, it has been sung at every funeral of every one of my family members who served starting with my Grandfather (WWI E/107/27 ID). Can't think of a more inclusive hymn.
    PS: Have the Corps of Cadets sing it.

  5. DJ's suggestion is brilliant! I second the motion!

  6. Perhaps select this piece by Martin Loeffler, composed in Boston during WWI, in memory of a New England airma who was killed in 1916. "Music for 4 Stringed Instruments". For the cd see the Naxos catalog for item Catalogue No: 8.559077. Or look for it on Amazon to hear samples, seek item B000069KHE. Sincerel A. Sykley

  7. As a non-religious song how can we not include Geo, Cohan's "Over There."
    It is certainly the most (US) associated song with the war. As a member
    SUVCW the Battle Hymn of the Republic is associated with the War Between
    the States and used on Memorial Day. I support Tom Berner's poetry suggestion.