Saturday, November 11, 2017
a day to remember
On the eleventh day on the eleventh month at 11 AM (or so the legend goes) in 1918, an armistice was called bringing to a close the first act of the bloodiest war Europe had ever seen.
More than 18 million people lost their lives. But there was a greater casualty -- the promise that liberal progressivism offered Europe bled to death on the fields of Flanders. In its place, arose a Communist tide in Russia and a cynical socialism in western Europe that would soon do battle with an even more cynical Fascism in mere years from the signing of the armistice.
But all of that was to come. At the appointed hour on 11 November 1918, the guns fell silent. And, if there was not joy, there was relief from four long years of despair.
Initially, no one was interested in celebrating what had been one tragedy built on the next. But, the British, always willing to turn anything into a ceremony, were the first to honor the fallen dead. Starting in 1919.
The tradition spread through Europe and the Commonwealth nations. And even to The States where it fit in well with a growing sense of isolationism. A reminder that never again would American boys die on foreign soil.
Of course, American boys were soon to die in foreign countries. Lot of them. And still are. As are soldiers from all of the countries who honor Armistice Day. Or Remembrance Day. Or Veterans' Day.
This is the day that Americans honor veterans in general. (Memorial Day is for those who have fallen.)
But I am not in The States today. I am in Mexico.
Not surprisingly, Mexico does not celebrate on this day. It was not a party to World War One. It was still fighting its own revolution. But the Germans did their best to enlist Mexico in the war against the United States -- as a political diversion. Mexico did not take the bait.
However, the Canadians and Americans who are here in our part of Mexico joined today at 11 AM at Rooster's for a moment of silence, a reading of John McCrae's In Flanders Fields, and a singing of the national anthems of The United States, Canada and Mexico (even though, as I just mentioned, Mexico had no involvement in the war, and Mexican law prohibits the singing of foreign national anthems without the permission of the Secretary of Interior).
The program has become an annual tradition. And I always take part. Usually, as the poem reader. After all, I am a veteran.
It is the least we can do to remember the men and women who have sacrificed a portion of their lives (and often, their full lives) to the service of their country.
To all of you who have served, I say thank you. May your honorable acts be worthy of how we operate our civil society.