Saturday, November 11, 2017

Armistice Day/Veterans Day

     Let's talk about people -- starting with the people who, 99 years ago this day, managed to put an end to the First World War and who thought they were going to be able to fix the peace in place, like a beautiful moth on a collector's display.  It didn't work.  With the war over, six months of peace negotiations were entered into with the highest of hopes -- the first three of Wilson's Fourteen Points are a libertarian dream -- and the parties built a peaceful Europe that carried the seeds of its own destruction.

     But they had hope.  The weary soldiers had hope -- and for nearly eleven years, that hope soared.  Don't lose sight of that.  People fail; our institutions fail on a grand scale -- but we get up and try again.

     As time -- and wars -- have passed and piled up, the focus of this day has shifted, from the agreement that ended the War To End All Wars, from politicians and their fine words to the people who have fought all wars and the peace in between: the veterans.

     You can, I suppose, look at the sidewalk and mumble, "Than kew for y'service," like you were tipping a waiter.  A little recognition is better than none.  But better yet, make eye contact, listen -- maybe the veterans you know spent four years, or twenty, as a glorified filing clerk in uniform; maybe they did brave or dangerous things.  They served.  Lend them your attention for even a little time.

     I have worked with a guy who did comms on a big SAC airplane, with an African-American commercial artist who would smile sadly and look off in the distance when his service in WW II was mentioned, with Army, Marine and USAF vets who fought in Vietnam; with a man the army spent a few months teaching high-speed Morse Code and then sent off to radio in radar plots to fighter bases in the Pacific -- by voice.  I had an Uncle who served on a tiny Naval patrol craft in the Med (that once bumped into an Italian submarine with a crew bound and determined to surrender and figured a Chief Petty Officer was as good for that as anyone), a brother who served as a chaplain in the Middle East and a great, great grandfather who got through Army training, was kicked on a hip by mule en route to his first assignment, and sent home after (mostly) recovering.  They all stepped up.  They all had hopes -- and put themselves at risk to preserve them, and yours as well.  Thank them and know who you are thanking, and why.


John Peddie (Toronto) said...

We call it Remembrance Day, the most solemn day of the year.

A few minutes from now, Toronto's transit system will come to a complete halt for two minutes of silent remembrance.

And a heartwarmer:

Merle Morrison said...

Thanks - this was a very elegant way to state it. :)

USN, Viet Nam war

Glenn Kelley said...

So much of what we deal with today was a result of the Paris Peace Talks in 1919 .
You might want to look at the book" Paris 1919" by Margaret MacMillan . It's a good read if a bit of a slog in places .
Just the way they tried to deal with the Balkans makes it worthwhile .


dittybopper said...

I kinda tend to reply "For what?" when people thank me for my service. "I spent 3 years in Hawaii, drinking, surfing, SCUBA diving, chasing girls, and when I was actually doing my job, copying Morse code underneath a pineapple field. A job that led to a life-long hobby. I should be thanking you, you paid for me to do that!".