In Canada, Australia, India, Kenya, the UK, and the remainder of the 54 Commonwealth nations, today is Remembrance Day, a holiday honoring those who gave their lives for King (or Queen) and country while serving in the armed forces. As such, Remembrance Day is much more like our Memorial Day.
In my youth, this holiday was alternatively called Armistice Day. Officially, it became Veterans Day in 1954, but of course many adults kept calling it by its original name for years and years thereafter. The armistice referred to in the earlier title was the one that ended hostilities on the Western Front of the Great War. That occurred, famously, in Marshal Foch’s railway car, deep in France’s Forest of Compiègne. Though signed by representatives of Germany, France, and the Allies in the wee hours of that morning, the agreed-upon time for the laying-down of arms was “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”.
Today, on the 93rd anniversary of that armistice, on Veterans Day, we can go that timestamp one better, adding “of the 11th year”. Hence, my decision to publish this epistle at 11am on 11/11/11.
Over at Peace Tree Farm, I’ve written posts marking Veterans Day on almost every November 11 since 2003. Somehow, I missed it last year, breaking a seven-year streak. In case you’re interested, here are links to those essays:
- On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (2003)
- Eleventh hour, eleventh day, eleventh month … again (2004)
- 11th, 11th, 11th … Veterans Day (2005)
- How will this war be memorialized? (2006)
- On Veterans Day (2007)
- A different sort of Veterans Day (2008)
- Lest we forget (2009)
I’m not a veteran myself. To be honest, only a few of my friends and family served in the military. I come from a long line of non-soldiers … had a student deferment during Vietnam and then a high enough number in the first draft lottery to avoid being called, my father was 4-F in World War II (he was deaf in one ear), and my maternal grandfather was a temporary New York City cop while many of the real policemen were marching “over there” in World War I. My father’s father did serve, if you consider playing the French horn in Czar Nicholas II’s army band to be military service.
But you don’t have to be a veteran to honor those who did serve. So here’s to Shaun Dale, whose blog Upper Left has been running almost as long as my own, and to Michael Hood of the well-respected BlatherWatch. Here’s to HA commenter-extraordinaire Roger Rabbit and to Robby, occasional HA commenter and erstwhile blogger on the late, lamented Effin’Unsound. And a salute to my Congressman Jim McDermott, one of only 90 House members with military service of any sort. Jim was a Navy psychiatrist treating sailors and soldiers with PTSD during the Vietnam War (to be fair, both of Washington’s Republican Congressmen, Dave Reichert and Doc Hastings, were reservists).
And, in fact, greetings and salutations in honor of all of the veterans hereabouts.