sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 11, 2005

veterans day
posted by soe 11:09 am

a Remembrance Day poppy

Four years ago we spent Veterans Day in England. Known there as Remembrance Day, the holiday is observed nationwide at 11 a.m. The country goes silent. Not for thirty seconds. But for two minutes. Two whole minutes. Radio and tv goes quiet. No one whispers over the silence. No one explains what’s going on. You just stop. And think. And remember. And think good thoughts for veterans who made it home safely. And for families whose children, friends, siblings, and parents didn’t come home.

When I was young, I thought positive thoughts about my dad and my uncle and my grandfathers who had all served in the army. Veterans were things that older men were. I didn’t understand that veterans still exist, that they were contemporaneous.

Today I am an adult and I still find it hard to remember that some days. That men and women are living and dying on front lines and in iffy situations around the world every moment of every day to keep me safe. And that not only are they not older, these days many of them are younger. Younger even than my brother, who I still don’t think of as grown up. I think of my college interns from my Wesleyan days and the Coast Guard cadets from my Conn College days and cannot superimpose their living, breathing youthfulness over the names and faces of those who die on a daily basis for their country.

So that’s why Veterans Day is so necessary, is still so important. Because people die for me, even if I don’t understand why they’re dying.

Two minutes seems like a long time when you’re still and silent. But it’s not really that long. It’s not long enough to list all those veterans who died this year. It’s not even long enough to name the 92 who died in the line of duty last month. It’s not long enough to count the number of soldiers who’ve been wounded in action. It’s not long at all when you figure that someone who was killed when they were 20 lost 50+ years. What’s two minutes in fifty years? We’ve all got two minutes to spare.

So I’m taking two minutes — 120 seconds — to remember. A nation joining together to honor our soldiers all at the same moments would be powerful. But even honoring them on our own is something.

Thank you, veterans. I honor your memory today with a virtual poppy (worn by most British people at this time of year to remember veterans).

— Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD

In Flanders Field the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Category: politics. There is/are 1 Comment.

Rudi shares his thoughts about Veterans Day in this post: remembrance day/veterans day: take heed of the dream

Trackback by randomduck 11.11.05 @ 2:36 pm