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Honoring those who served

In the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 — one hundred and three years ago today — the guns fell silent.

On the battlefields of Europe, where war had raged for more than four years, and throughout the world, those who had survived the carnage breathed a sigh of relief.

It was over.

Veterans Day 2021

The War to End All Wars, it was called.1

Of course, it wasn’t that, not at all, and its toll was staggering: more than nine million dead, more than 21 million wounded2 — and those are only the combat numbers. Add in the civilian losses, and the numbers of deaths exceed 20 million.

Looking just at the combatants, when you add in all causes of death, that war took the lives of somewhere around 5.7 million troops on the Allied side and around 4 million troops from the Central Powers. From the United States, more than 53,000 combat deaths. From Canada, more than 56,000. From Australia, more than 61,000. From the UK, 744,000. From France, 1.15 million. And those were the “winners.” On the losing side, from Austro-Hungary, 1 million. From Germany, 1.8 million.3

Among them, on that losing side, my grandfather’s brother, my grand uncle Arno Werner Geissler, killed in Galicia on 22 June 1915.4 And his brother-in-law Franz Oskar Oettel, who died 21 July 1915 in a battle on the western front called the Barrenkopf.5

It was — as all wars are — a terrible war.

And it gave rise to what today is called Veterans Day in the United States.

First proclaimed in November 1919 by President Wilson as Armistice Day,6 it became Veterans Day in 1954,7 a day and time to honor not those who perished (that’s Memorial Day, in May), but every man and woman who has ever served this nation, wearing the uniform of its military services.

Including so so many in my own family.8

Among them, my brothers and sister:

Evan H. Geissler, U.S. Air Force
Diana M. Geissler McKenzie, U.S. Air Force
Frederick M. Geissler, U.S. Army
Warren H. Geissler, U.S. Air Force
William K. Geissler, U.S. Marine Corps

My mother’s siblings and first cousins:

Billy R. Cottrell, U.S. Navy
Monte B. Cottrell, U.S. Navy
David F. Cottrell, U.S. Navy and U.S. Army
Jerry L. Cottrell, U.S. Air Force
Michael V. Cottrell, U.S. Air Force
Philip Cottrell, U.S. Marine Corps (killed 1943)
Frederick Merledon Gottlieb, U.S. Army
Sam Walter “Pete” Harris, U.S. Army

Among what we call the outlaws (my mother’s brothers-in-law and my nephew-in-law):

J.C. Barrett, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force
Miller (Ray) Childress, U.S. Navy
John C. Epps, U.S. Army
Thomas T. Williams, Jr., U.S. Air Force (Reserve)
David Tolliver, U.S. Navy

And those who went before:

Clay R. Cottrell, U.S. Army, World War I
Gilbert F. Cottrell, U.S. Army, World War I
Jasper N. Baird, Private, Company F, 2nd U.S. Infantry Volunteers, Civil War9
Jesse Fore, fifer, Captain Michael Gaffney’s Company, South Carolina Militia, War of 1812
Elijah Gentry Sr., Private, 1st Regiment, Mississippi Territorial Volunteers, War of 1812
Elijah Gentry, Private, 1st Regiment, Mississippi Territorial Volunteers, War of 1812
Boston Shew, Private, Captain Carlton’s Company, North Carolina Militia, War of 1812
David Baker, Corporal, 3d Virginia Regiment, Continental Line
William Noel Battles, Private, 10th Virginia Regiment, Continental Line
John Pettypool, 1771, Militia, Granville County, NC
William Pettypool, 1701-02, Militia, Charles City County (Va.) Dragoons
Nicholas Gentry, cir 1680, Militia, Mattapony (Va.) Garrison

We thank you, all, for your service.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Veterans Day 2021,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 11 Nov 2021).


Image: “World War Ended,” Paris (Texas) Morning News, 11 Nov 1918, p.1; digital images, ( : accessed 11 Nov 2021).

  1. See Wikipedia (, “The war to end war,” rev. 14 Oct 2021.
  2. World War I casualties,” Centre européen Robert Schuman ( : accessed 11 Nov 2021).
  3. See Wikipedia (, “World War I casualties,” rev. 9 Nov 2021.
  4. Verlust-Liste Nr. 0596 (20 Jul 1915), World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1917, digital image, ( : accessed 27 Jul 2012); citing Deutsche Verlustlisten 1914 bis 1917, Berlin, Deutschland : Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt).
  5. Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875 – 1939” (Funerary Records 1875 – 1939), entry for Franz Oskar Oettel, citing Bremen Standesamt 1915, Seite (Page) 968, Nr. 3334; database, Die Maus – Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen ( : accessed 22 June 2018).
  6. Veterans Day,” WWPL Blog, posted 22 March 2019, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum ( : accessed 11 Nov 2021).
  7. “An Act To honor veterans on the 11th day of November of each year, a day dedicated to world peace,” 68 Stat. 168 (1 Jun 1954).
  8. The list would be so much longer if I even began to list the cousins!
  9. Sigh… my Galvanized Yankee, but I’ll count his Union service. See Judy G. Russell, “A layer of blue,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 13 Mar 2021 ( : accessed 11 Nov 2021).
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