Indian Troops in WWI
Indian troops were critical to Allied victory in WWI.

Today is Armistice Day (now known as Veterans Day), which was originally created to mark the end of World War 1.

Over 100 years after the Great War's end, as America and other countries honor their veterans, some faith groups are still battling for recognition that they too fought and died for Europe and America. And historians believe that a more thorough understanding of the faith makeup of WWI soldiers can help battle modern prejudices.

One group fighting for acknowledgment of Muslim contributions towards the war effort is Forgotten Heroes 14-19 Foundation. Through extensive research of primary sources like letters and field reports, they’ve put together as thorough a record as possible of the Muslim effort for the Allies.

They found that more than four million Muslims around the globe either fought or worked as laborers in World War I.

There are also numerous firsthand accounts of Christians, Jews, Muslims and other faith groups sharing their beliefs and culture in the trenches. And the efforts of “chaplains, priests, rabbis and imams went out of their way to learn, Arabic, Hebrew, English and French, in order to accommodate religious burials of the dead on the battlefront.”

100 years later, they hope that highlighting the great effort of Muslims across the globe can help tear down barriers today. The report notes that “Many far-right activists and sympathisers in Europe say, and believe, 'Muslims have never done anything for us.' The truth is one which they can’t deny. They (Muslim soldiers) made the greatest sacrifice. They died for you too. Hundreds of thousands of them.”

Forgotten Soldiers

Individuals of all faith backgrounds fought for the Allies during WWI. Sikhs, for example, fought bravely in both World War I and II for the British Indian Army. Known as the ‘Lions of the Great War’, they made up about 35,000 of the roughly 161,000 troops of the Indian Army, despite being only about 2% of the population.

Sikhs bravery in battle and penchant for heroics proved to be a major boon for the British, so much so that they went out of their way to set up Sikh Temples on the battlefield. Sikhs also faced difficulties other faith groups didn’t. They “fought disease, filth, [and] gas attacks... with only their turbans to protect them from head wounds and their unshorn hair and long beards, as prescribed by their religious faith, in disease infested, muddy trenches.”

And in the Great War, hundreds of thousands of Jewish people fought for the Allies. Roughly 250,000, in fact, fought for the United States, double that in the Russian Army, and about 40,000 for the British.

Jewish diplomats and organizations played critical roles in peace negotiations. Their participation and sacrifice also helped grant them a wider acceptance within American culture. “Before World War I, most Americans saw Jews as an alien population,” JewishBoston writes. Their participation in the war brought them from “immigrants” to “Americans”.

A Global Faith Effort

As the 14-19 Foundation hopes to show, 20th-century warfare was not fought just by Christians. Hundreds of thousands of non-Christian American and European men and women fought and died for their respective countries. And yet, their contributions to the war effort have largely been ignored or forgotten by history.

"The way [World War I] is taught currently is very European-centric,” says Hayyan Bhabha. “The history that is taught doesn't show the true diversity of everyone that took part in the First World War."

They’re fighting to change that.

In 1919, the first Armistice Day was observed, celebrating the end of World War I. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill into law that officially made November 11 a federal holiday to honor all veterans - and thus the holiday was renamed Veteran's Day.

This Veteran's Day, let's make sure we honor the sacrifice of all soldiers who lost their lives.


  1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

    Any defender of our democracy and our freedoms is a hero irrespective of their faith or lack thereof.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    In Canada its called Remembrance Day and they have a different name for it in Europe. So we DO remember all the ones who fought for us and with us inWW1 and WW2. Anyone can see this by just looking at the tombstones with all the different religions listed on them in Arlington and in Normandy/Luxenbourg/Ardennes/Brittany and a host of others. So the main question is WHY is the author of this thread trying to imply that we dont? they should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. rebadams7's Avatar rebadams7

      There are two holidays is the US. Veterans Day is to honor the living former and present day service members and Memorial Day is to honor and remember the deceased service members

      1. Rev, Rene L.'s Avatar Rev, Rene L.

        Regardless the day, country or religion, regardless the era of the war, it is always the same: never have so many died or were wounded in a cause of defending the few. As one who have served, I honor all who served their country!

      2. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        really rebadams7? Memorial Day is used as nothing more then an excuse for a three day holiday and yet another day for the stores to have a sale to get rid of the crap they couldnt sell up till then. What the bloody heck does a cooler or a sale on alcohol have to do with honoring anyone? Or a BBQ for that matter? And yet we have another of the endless sales for Veterans Day. As a Disabled Veteran I can remember not one stinking day of the so called Veterans Holidays, of me getting that day off and actually having to work while Banks and Post Offices and Politicians and so forth all got the day off with pay!

        You want to honor Veterans? Attend a grave side service, go to a Veterans Home and visit with them, take your Veteran neighbors a premade lunch or drive them to a grocery store or just sit and visit with them for a while. The rest of the so called happenings on these supposed two days set aside for Veterans is utter BS.

  1. Minister Mike's Avatar Minister Mike

    So were WWII, the Spanish American War, the American Revolution and Civil wars, Korean War, War against terrorism, Vietnam War. Not an earth shattering headline, but it does reinforce the notion that christians are pretty self centered.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    My father who serve in the Army infantry during WWII was stationed in North Africa and later in Italy and Europe as the war progressed. Would sometime tell me about the local nomadic Bedouin tribes in North Africa and what great admiration he had for them. The nomadic Bedouin tribes would aid the American and British troops by gathering information, He said the they were loyal and fierce fighters they would often terrorize the Nazis by silently sneaking in the Germans tents at night and slice the throats of every other German Soldier while they were sleeping so when they woke up they would see the person who was sleeping next them dead with their throat cut

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    My father said that you have a duty as a citizen to serve your country in the military to defend and protect it, But he also hated war, he said there is nothing glorify or romantic about war. He had great disdain for anyone that would glorify or romanticize war. He said that it's ugly, bloody and brutal. He especially dislike General George S Patton whom all the troop called Blood and gut Patton. He said that General Patton was nothing more then glory seeking dog who thought nothing about sacrificing the troop under his command in order to gain more glory

    1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

      Its funny how Soldiers, the actual slaves of our society, who often act as if they are above the free citizen, dare to say every citizen should be a servant of the state, as if we lived in a mopnarchy or some other form of government.

      I Serve no man, no king, no god, no country. I am no ones servant, nor slave. To even suggest I owe a duty to someone or something that has never done its fair share for me in turn, is like sugesting I do not deserve to be entitled to personal autonomy because of some idea of duty to some egocentric concept like patriotism.

      1. Kimberly Ann Devitt's Avatar Kimberly Ann Devitt

        If whatever Country your from has given to you YOUR FREEDOM in ANY Way YES it is your Duty as A MAN not a coward to face your country's enemy in time of need

        1. Peter Erich Schomaker's Avatar Peter Erich Schomaker

          Breathes there the man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land! Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd, As home his footsteps he hath turn'd From wandering on a foreign strand! If such there breathe, go, mark him well;

          For him no Minstrel raptures swell; High though his titles, proud his name, Boundless his wealth as wish can claim; Despite those titles, power, and pelf, The wretch, concentred all in self, Living, shall forfeit fair renown, And, doubly dying, shall go down To the vile dust, from whence he sprung, Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung.

          Sir Walter Scott

      2. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

        I know you must have heard the saying that nothing in life is free, everything you have in life come with a price and someone must pay that price whether that be you or someone else, but someone must pay it. The rights and the freedom you have as a citizen of your country all come with a price. Think of your country being the same as your home or house, if your home or house is being attack or invaded do you defend and protect it or do you stand aside and do nothing. Also think of your countries allies as being the same as your friends or even a weak and defenseless country as being a weak and defenseless person, do you help them by defending and protecting them or do you stand aside and do nothing. Does it make you a slave to defend protect your home, does it make you a slave to defend protect your friends or even a weak and defenseless person. Sometime war is a necessary evil that you must do even if it's ugly, bloody and brutal. However going to war that isn't justifiable is wrong! Then you must stand up and speak out against it, or you will be a slave if you do nothing.

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    Any statues that BLM can tear down. If you live in America long enough a family member went to war. The American Indian went to war against Germany so that they could score a kill. Some even said that it was a time that they were paid to kill the white man by the government that treated them so badly. There are many reason to go to war and some times it is not the same reason that most people think. Many times it is out of revenge. Going back to the old country to settle a killing that happen 200 years ago, because it is the proper thing to do. In Europe past wars are still going on. Almost like the Civil War of 1861 people are still fighting it.

  1. Peter Erich Schomaker's Avatar Peter Erich Schomaker

    History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    We have Remembrance Day in the U.K And I always wear a RBL Wristband and a badge and observe the Two minutes silence especially as both my late parents were in the army What does 2 minutes silence mean to remember the fallen and the wounded.Even now being medically retired I always honour everyone Minister Nick Page

  1. David Arthur Lewis's Avatar David Arthur Lewis

    "Our principle is, and our practices have always been, to seek peace and ensue it; to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God; seeking the good and welfare, and doing that which tends to the peace of all. We know that wars and fightings proceed from the lusts of men, as James 4:1-3, out of which the Lord hath redeemed us, and so out of the occasion of war. The occasion of war, and war itself (wherein envious men, who are lovers of themselves more than lovers of God lust, kill, and desire to have men's lives or estates) ariseth from lust. All bloody principles and practices, as to our own particulars, we utterly deny; with all outward wars and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under an pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world." - George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

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