Friday, November 11, 2011

11 November

...The man in the nice suit inside my TV almost said, "This is the first time Veteran's Day has fallen on 11-11-11 since 1911," but some dim sense of reality stopped him short.

It's Armistice Day. The day the guns fell silent.[1] And no matter how much Congress or your Social Studies teacher wants to retcon it to a safely generic holiday for "Veterans," that is why this day falls on this date. The Brits, somewhat more felicitously, call it "Remembrance Day," and it should indeed be that.

You can't express your gratitude to the men who fought the first mechanized war. Even the ones who were not ground in the gears are gone now; all that's left are scars on the landscape [2], redrawn maps that were scribbled over again a generation later, histories, monuments.

You can thank the men -- and women -- who, with that history as backdrop, still step up, (to paraphrase Patton) not to die for their country but to live for it, to fight for it and win for it. They're still there.

And the gears are still grinding.

Thank a veteran today. I don't care what you call this holiday, as long as you remember the past -- and don't lose sight of the present.
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1. Mostly. In Africa, it took three more days.
2. Others have linked to the photos of then and now but I find it poignant that the "war for democracy" was mostly fought between monarchies on the soil of a republic, the only one among the major powers until the U.S. showed up. The marks left on France still show, and not only on the landscape. --Of course, France was not the only front and for "marks that still show" elsewhere, look no further than modern Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the former USSR, none of which are likely to have existed without WW I. (The Balkans, on the other hand... Sigh).

5 comments:

Bubblehead Les. said...

Too bad the Pols can't seem to remember. Kipling's "Tommy" still rings true.

TrueBlueSam said...

Amen!

Ed Rasimus said...

A few years ago I asked a class of college freshmen in American Government if they knew what day it was. One volunteered that it was Tuesday. Another suggested the date. None knew the holiday.

I asked if they knew what an Armistice was. None did. I told them about the stoppage of fighting in the "War to End All Wars." None knew what war that was.

One tried to throw a sop to me by suggesting it might have been Vietnam. Another thought possibly Korea.

"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to..."

Nathan said...

Do they even get past the American Civil War in high school history anymore? I don't recall learning about WWI in high school but admittedly that was thirty-mumble years ago and the wench is dead...and I have spent a lot more time since then reading American history, so it's hard to tell which memories are ante and which are post :)

mikee said...

You can thank Wellington for the Republic of France.

The French Revolution and the follow-on era of Napoleon is an example of how not to run a revolution.