Why `Eleventh of November’?
In 1928, hardly 10 years after the First World War, the veterans were deeply shocked by the apathy of a great part of the population regarding their moral and material aspirations. The Veterans wished that their country would remember their sacrifices and realise what their obligations were. They kept thinking of their comrades killed in action in the plain of the river Yzer ; they wanted to face the future with more assurances and turned to their sons and daughters.
So it happened that in 1928 the first sections of the veterans’ children were created. Very soon, inspired and enthused by young people, supported by the National Federation of the Belgian Combatants, tens of new sections were born. In 1936, in perfect harmony with the board of the N.F.B.C. the re- grouping of the young people in a separate union already accounted for more than a hundred active sections. The National Federation of the circles of children of the veterans was immediately sustained by other associations in the `Six Commission’ and in the National Board of war veterans.
At the beginning of the Second World War the Federation counted 212 sections totalling 12,000 members. Apart from the worry of ensuring remembrance the sense of friendship and mutual assistance were the only solid bonds between members.
The War didn’t surprise us. We were morally prepared to absorb the shock and immediately after the campaign of May 1940 our leaders had a meeting. They decided to proceed with the action and already in October 1940 the local leaders received an underground paper called `Eleventh of November’ Everybody was invited to pay a visit, preferably on the 11th of November, to the cemeteries and monuments dedicated to the memory of the heroes, and to observe a few moments of silence for those who died in service in 1914 – 1918, and in May 1940.
The underground action soon extended; at the national level the information and action service was created, whilst the regional sections contacted the cells of other groups of Resistance members. Unfortunately the inevitable had to happen. The whole of the executive Federal Committee was arrested by the Gestapo, apart from the Federal president Mr R. Deriviere, who was able to escape to England. The Federal Committee was wound down but at local levels the divisions remained active.
During the difficult years of 1940 – 1944 we wanted to prove that we were worthy of preserving the inheritance of the veterans of the 1914-1918 War. We wanted to prove that the civic education was not unnecessary in a country which already suffered too much materialism and indifference.
During the first after – war congress of our Federation it was decided to modify the name from `National Federation of the Veterans’ sons and daughters’, to `Eleventh of November’ . So that is why we brought forth evidence about the prevailing spirit of our country on the 11th of November 1918; appreciation of those who fought for the preservation of the Belgian community. We accepted the title `Eleventh of November’ to the memory of our 82 comrades who gave their lives during 1940 to 1945.
`Eleventh of November’ re-unites the sons and daughters of the Veterans, of the members of the Resistance and of the political prisoners of both World Wars. The various groupings of veterans correspond to important moral and material interests. Trouble between these descendants is absolutely not justified. The unity of our movement must allow us at any time to lead an adequate campaign towards those who did not remember and considered the veterans too easily as an unnecessary burden in our society. Our Association must also be a guarantee for the unity of the nation and for the unity due to the Constitutional institutions. Veterans of 1914 – 1918 and 1940 to 1945, resistance members and political prisoners – your children must join the ranks of `Eleventh of November’.