Today, the day we Americans call “Veterans Day,” is known in countries with a British heritage as “Remembrance Day.” It’s Nov. 11, because, as we should recall, the guns of August (World War I) finally fell silent on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Nov. 11, 1918.
It was, at the time, the “Great War.” It was great because it seemed so unimaginably huge, so deadly in consequence, so wholesale in its slaughter. Sadly, in just over 20 years, it was to be dwarfed by a much larger, even more global, conflict. And today, the dogs of war are still loose in the world.
I’m not a veteran, but I know many. Several of my sisters, nephews, my father, uncles—there are plenty of veterans in my family. It’s a day to say thanks for their service.
So thank you, Otto, Toni, Mimi, Jack, Doug, uncles, etc. You wore or are wearing the uniform of your country and swore to protect her with your very life, and I’m thinking of you today.
What makes me sad, of course, is what always makes many a sane person sad on Veteran’s Day. As last week’s Mount Mercy Times so aptly stated, perhaps the best way to honor the service of veterans is to act in ways that would send fewer of our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters into harm’s way.
On Shawn L. Bird’s blog, I saw a song that almost brought me to tears. Of course, in Canada, where she is from, this day is more in line with our Memorial Day, but still. As the song notes, those people who perished starting 100 years ago next year in northern France (and in Africa and at Gallipoli and in islands in the South Pacific and in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic, etc.) hoped that they were fighting the “war to end all wars.”
Well, I’m not a pacifist. If there were no crime, we would not need police officers, but we do. If no people wished to use force to unfairly enforce their violent will on others, we would not need women and men in our armed forces. But, we do.
So I don’t mean my thanks to seem muted or halfhearted. But, still, there is that note of sadness to it all the same.
After all, this day started after the guns fell silent at the 11th hour. Sadly, they did not stay silent.
We fought 99 years ago to end all war. We didn’t do a very good job. Here’s hoping that the 21st century won’t rival the 20th in terms of the scope, scale and horror of its carnage.
Happy Veteran’s Day.