On the 11th day, of the 11th month, at the 11th hour we effectively ended hostilities on the Western Front. At the time they thought it best to mark the occasion with a moment of silence — both to honor the dead and say a prayer that it never happened again. Unfortunately, it did happen again, and this time much, much worse. After World War II, the U.S. renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day and that’s what we’re ‘celebrating’ today.
We’ve have nearly 100 of these moments of silence, 91 chances to reflect annually on the cost of war in human lives, and yet in the end it doesn’t seem that the lessons of the great wars have been learned.
On this, the 91st such moment of silence, and as a veteran who comes from a long line of American servicemen, I will say a small prayer at 11am PST that our leaders can find a different solution to their problems. So that my brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, and all of the places that they are deployed will come home safe.
One last thing, for those folks who, while watching English football notice that pretty much everyone wears a poppy on their lapel in the weeks leading up to Veterans day, they are a paper device sold during The Poppy Appeal which is a charity drive for The Royal British Legion, a charity for veterans and the families of veterans. The poppy is their symbol because the poppy commonly grew in the fields of Flanders, where some of the bloodiest battles were fought in World War I, as immortalized in this poem by Lt.-Col. John McCrae;
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 – 1918)
Hold it high, and stay safe, until tomorrow.