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November 11th, 2005

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07:03 pm - A celebration of peace
Gakked from blaisepascal in this entry in his LJ:

The War is Over, We Live, Let Us Celebrate and Fight No More
By Buddha Buck, 10 November 2005, 11:20pm EST

Four Score and Seven years ago, documents were signed in a railway car on a siding in a French forest which would make today remembered in history. But those documents aren't what's remembered. Rather, what happened 5 hours and 40 minutes later.

In that 5h40m window word went out to millions of soldiers across France: The war will be over; this is our last chance to take that trench/hill/field/land.

Paradoxically, with the end in sight, the fighting increased. The guns were louder, more constant, pounding the landscape, the people. The Englishman, the German, the Frenchman, the Canadian, the American, fighting, shooting, too scared to see the irony of their comrades death after the papers had been signed.

Then, suddenly, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the order came: Cease Fire! All along the front, the guns simultaneously fell silent. I can imagine, at first, nothing moved, as no one there trusted it. But slowly, a murmer would build across the battlefields, between the trenches, over the wires, der Krieg hat beendet, la guerre a fini, The war is over. As the cheers rose in the air, an undercurrent could be heard... je vis, ich lebe, I live.

Men from all sides, whom mere minutes ago had been trying to kill each other, now rose from the trenches, cut down the wires that separated them, and hugged each other, shook each others hands, shared food, drink, alcohol, cameradery. Three languages flowed from their tongues, and whether or not a man understood German or English or French didn't matter. The message was clear. The war is over. We are alive. Let us celebrate together and fight no more.

87 years have passed, and that message is nearly lost. In the US, where I am, we celebrate today as "Veteran's Day", celebrating those that served in the military. The "old name", of Armistice Day all but forgotten. I was surprised to see someone in the grocery store today wearing a poppy on their lapel -- and even that had a small Canadian Maple Leaf insignia at the center. Last Sunday traffic was tied up downtown due to a veteran's parade, and I suspect more people were annoyed at the delay than appreciated the marchers.

We have lots of holidays here to glorify war and the military: Memorial Day, to remember those who have fallen in battle; D-Day, to remember the sucessfull invasion of Europe; VE Day, to remember the victory over Germany in 1945; VJ Day, to remember the victory over Japan; Independence Day, to remember a declaration of war.

Let's remember this one, quiet holiday to celebrate wars end. November 11th. Armistice. The war is over. We live. Let us celebrate together and fight no more.

I really liked what he wrote in the above piece -- I think it's great that we have a holiday that is a celebration of peace breaking out, even though in the US it is observed more as a holiday of sales at stores and only secondarily as a rememberance for fallen soldiers. I personally think more attention should be paid to this holiday and more of an emphasis on its origin as a celebration of the end of a terrible war that engulfed much of the Western world.

Wear a poppy today and remember those fallen in Flanders' fields. Remember also that just as war can break out, so too can peace.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: "Ruhe" by Eisbrecher

(3 seeds eaten | Eat a pomegranate)


[User Picture]
Date:November 12th, 2005 12:23 am (UTC)

Minor correction....

Veterans Day is a day of rememberance for soldiers who served, but didn't die. Memorial Day is a day of rememberance for fallen soldiers.
[User Picture]
Date:November 12th, 2005 12:30 am (UTC)

Re: Minor correction....

True . . . BUT . . . most Americans tend to celebrate it as a day for remembering fallen soldiers as well as those that survived. Specifically those that died in WWI -- that's why the veterans groups give out little silk poppies as lapel pins at this time of year. At least that is how it is where I am in NYC -- here both groups of soldiers are honored. Things might be different up where you are though . . .

[User Picture]
Date:November 14th, 2005 01:22 pm (UTC)

Re: Minor correction....

That's how I've heard people describing it as well. My father, a Korean War vet, is a member of a veterans' organization, and I remember other members describing the poppy as a symbol of remembrance of those who died, and secondarily as a symbol of those who lived.

Incidentally, I was in London for November 11th a few years ago, shortly after 9/11. I remember seeing people wearing poppies _everywhere_, which was a little surprising after living in NYC lo these many years. (I've seen many more people wearing them upstate; people in NYC not so much. I remember several years ago seeing someone on the subway selling poppies on Veterans' Day, and going up to him and getting one -- I didn't remember seeing anyone doing that in NYC before. He was a very old man, and he was surprised and touched that a young person knew what they even meant.) And something I found especially interesting -- I saw several people in London wearing _white_ poppies. (Haven't seen that in the states.) I asked about this, and was told that they wore the white poppies as a symbol of peace -- that they wanted to honor those who served and those who died, and did not want anyone else to have to do it, absent a VERY serious threat. In other words, there are circumstances under which war is justified, but they are exceedingly rare, and a desire to expand territorially or control foreign economies ISN'T one of them.

One of the people I talked to said that people had worn white poppies for this reason for several years -- in other words, it wasn't a response to 9/11. He wore a white poppy, and I asked what he thought of the war in Afghanistan. He thought about it for a minute, then said that to him, the war in Afghanistan was more like WWII -- he considered it a defensive war. I can see his point -- and I have to say I think of Korea, Vietnam and Iraq as much more like WWI than WWII. In other words, while I honor my dad, other Korea vets, and Iraq vets, I do NOT approve of the reasons why the US government felt free to risk their lives.

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