Monday, November 11, 2013

preserving the torch

Today is Veterans' Day in the United States.  In Canada and Great Britain, it is Remembrance Day.

It is the day we specifically set aside to remember all of the servicemen who have protected our values -- in war or in peace.  But its roots are in a specific war.  World War One.  The war that was to end all wars.  And to make the world safe for democracy.

Both phrases are now associated with President Wilson, even though the first originated with H.G. Wells.  Of course, nothing of the sort happened.  The Twentieth Century was filled with one war after another.  And the world is no safer for democracy than it was in 1918.

And 1918 is important for our tale.  Because it was on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour of that year that an armistice was declared in Europe ending what then seemed to be the most brutal war of human history.  Since then, we have honored not only the men who fought in that war, but also anyone who served in the armed forces in the pursuit of an orderly and peaceful world.

Today I joined a restaurant-full of Mexicans, Canadians, and Americans to honor the fallen and the living in uniform.  The ceremony was simple.  A playing of The Last Waltz.  A moment of silence.  A reading of In Flanders Field.  And then the singing of the national anthems of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

I was honored to be asked to read the poem and to lead the singing of the American anthem.  Even though, I managed to Robert Goulet the lyrics on the latter.

My little error did not take away from the true sentiment of thankfulness of the people who participated.  And we had the very personification of what we were honoring in our midst.  Elton Ellsworth is a regular Melaque visitor.  But more than that, he is a veteran of World War Two, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

For those who have died,  For those who have served.  For those who stand on guard today.  I salute you.

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