The 11th hour has become synonymous with Veterans Day, originally called Armistice day, in recognition of the document signed at the 11th hour, or the 11th day, of the 11th month. In reality, the Armistice ending the war to end all wars was signed around 5 a.m. on November 11. Over the course of the next 6 hours, nearly 3,000 men would lose their lives in the final hours of a war that had already claimed the lives of 20 million military personnel. The final death of WW1 came at 10:59 am one minute before the guns of war would fall silent.
Private Henry Gunther was a German-American drafted in the fall of 1917; most accounts state that his final actions were motivated by Gunther’s need to demonstrate that he was “courageous and all-American.” A chaplain from Gunther’s unit recounted, “As 11 a.m. approached, Gunther suddenly rose with his rifle and ran through thick fog. His men shouted for him to stop. So did the Germans. But Gunther kept running and firing. One machine gun blast later, he was dead. His death was recorded at 10:59 a.m.