Sunday, 11 November 2012

Armistice Day/Veterans Day/Remembrance Day

It used to be called “The Great War”.

 My parents called it "The First War"

Some folks called it the 1914/ 1918 war.

Now we call it WW1

It was dubbed “the war to end all wars”. 

It stumbled to an end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.  There were no victors.

There was simply the armistice agreed upon by exhausted countries.

It was an utterly unnecessary war, fueled only by the testosterone enriched energies of Kings, Emperors, Generals and Admirals.

It signaled the end of the Austrian/Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire and the German hopes for Empire.

 It triggered the eventual demise of the Ottoman Empire, the French Empire and the British Empire.

A weakened Russia was ripe for revolution, and the Bolsheviks won.

A humiliated Germany was fertile ground for the seizure of power by the National Socialist party.

“A war to end all wars”: what a joke.  Within twenty years Europe was at war again – and the later entry of Japan and the United States of America signaled the beginning of a truly World-wide war.

That war being concluded in Europe led to the Russian domination of Eastern Europe and the ghastly U.S.S.R.  (However Hitler would not have been defeated sans the Russian Army, a fact which we love to ignore).

It also led to the “Cold War” and the dreadful militarization of these United States and our emergence as a war-loving country.

That war being concluded in the Far East, and the Japanese Empire being defeated,  the Chinese Maoists had more or less free rein to continue their revolution, with disastrous results.

11th November was at one time known as Armistice Day.

In the United States it became Veterans Day. 

In Britain and some countries of the Commonwealth it is Remembrance Day.

In those countries citizens often wear a poppy emblem round about Remembrance Day. The sales of these poppies raise money for ex-servicemen and women.

(For the origin of the poppy emblem look up the poem “In Flanders Fields”).

I was in our local British goods store on Friday and noticed that they had poppy emblems for sale.

I bought one and wore it to the Sarasota opera last evening.

There were many children present because it was the world premiere of a new youth opera – the cast of which included over 100 children aged 8 – 18.

One young lad said “I like your carnation”.  His Mom told him that it was a poppy, and I told him why I was wearing it. I explained that what he calls “Veteran’s Day” is called “Remembrance Day” in some other countries.


Even though the ceremonies in the U.K. and in some Commonwealth nations concentrate on the military dead I prefer the possibilities of the name “Remembrance Day”.

It is a day to remember not only the war dead:

but also the cities, towns and villages which were obliterated;

the hopes that were destroyed; the women who were bereft; the children who were left fatherless (and in these days sometimes motherless);

the millions upon millions of civilians who starved to death.


It is a day to remember that we humans who dominate and plunder at will are fundamentally stupid, and that far from evolving we are merely clever and sinister animals.

It is a day to proclaim that “War is not the answer”.

Wearing a poppy on my way to the Opera. Excuse this dreadful self-taken photo'.

I always fly "Old Glory" on national holidays. My dissidence is deeply patriotic.

Bumper Sticker on a car at Sarasota's Quaker Meeting which I attended this morning.

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