MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
British, French and other Air University personnel from across the Commonwealth hosted a Remembrance Day Service on Nov. 11, 2018, at the Oakwood Cemetery Annex in Montgomery, Alabama.
Members from the Maxwell and Montgomery community joined the foreign officers to pay their respects for both French and Commonwealth service members who fought in past conflicts, and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The ceremony consisted of short speeches from U.S., French and British officers as well as a laying of wreaths.
The Oakwood Cemetery Annex holds particular significance to the foreign officers in attendance as it holds the graves of 78 Commonwealth airmen from the Second World War, who died while training in Alabama under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, in addition to 20 French war graves.
“There is a long history of British, French and Commonwealth airmen training in Montgomery, Alabama,” said Royal Air Force Wing Commander (Lt. Col.) Jamie R. Meighan, Air Command and Staff College Department of Future Security Studies. “Remembrance Sunday is always the Sunday closest to Armistice Day (November 11), used to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts. Armistice Day is commemorated every year to mark the armistice signed between the allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, at 5:45 a.m., for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.”
Although Meighan’s first time attending this ceremony, he said the British officers at Maxwell have led this event for a number of years. This was the largest number of attendees in recent years with representatives from multiple countries, civic groups and other leaders.
According to Meighan, AU, and ACSC specifically, use this day to reflect on the previous wars and to take the stories of fallen service members to apply them to today’s military in order to avoid making past mistakes. He said that in addition to having an open mind, the most important step of learning from previous conflicts is to identify the important lessons and to take steps to understand, react and adapt to what is learnt.
“It is our duty to remember the fallen who fought so that we may live with the liberties that we enjoy in our lives today,” Meighan said. “It is also important that we do not take our freedom for granted. Reflection and reembrace are ways to ensure we and our children do not forget.”