I admit it. I am fascinated by that set of numbers.
Not in the crystal-minded numerologist sense. After all, today's date is merely derived from a starting date for the western calendar based on a wild (and incorrect) guess.
We all know the tale how the cease-fire for the First World War went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Or so goes the myth. And Armistice Day was born.
Because the United States managed to get involved in a series of wars that were more efficient in killing young men, the day morphed into Veterans Day. A day that seems to have attracted a bit more notice this year because of that additional "11" -- our binary salute to the men and women who served in the cause of liberty.
The United States is one of the few countries not built on a national identity. To be American is to be in favor of an idea -- liberty. The ability to be as good as you choose and to learn lesson s from both failures and successes. That all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I watched Leni Riefenstahl's The Triumph of the Will this week. Leni's 1934 valentine to Adolf Hitler, fresh from his bloody extermination of the SA leadership.
Of course, watching the film now, my analysis suffers from presentism. But I found myself wondering how could Germans voluntarily trade their social, personal, and religious freedoms to a totalitarian state? Can any pot of porridge be worth that sacrifice?
Since I have started writing this blog, two of my uncles have died. Both of them heroes of the Second World War that ushered Hitler into Hell's ante room. But it is a generation that will soon be gone. Just are the veterans who gave us Armistice Day.
But there are young veterans today returning from wars to a military that will inevitably be down-sized. Just as my uncles deserved a salute, so do these young men and women.
More than that, they deserve jobs in a resurgent economy in the nation for which they staked their lives.
That would be the best Veterans Day appreciation of all.
To those of you who served in the cause of liberty, I salute you.