Friday, November 11, 2016

The 11th Hour, The 11th Day, The 11th Month

Yes, I know that today is Veterans Day. Yes, I know that Memorial Day is set aside in this country to commemorate those who have fallen in our country's wars.

I know that.

But in 1917, my great-great uncle Robert died of wounds received during Allenby's campaign to drive the Turks out of Palestine (as it was called then) in World War I. So in Scotland, he and his fellow soldiers are mourned this day. How can I not follow suit?

Our Canadian neighbors call this day Remembrance Day. Most of the old Commonwealth nations set aside this day to remember their dead. The day itself commemorates the end of the Great War. When at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent. The war which many called "The War to End All Wars" was over.

Millions were dead. The peoples of the United Kingdom and France left nearly an entire generation dead on the fields of battle. Other nations suffered as well. The carnage on the Western Front, in the East, in Africa, and in the Middle East led to the fall of the Russian, German, Ottoman, and Austrian Empires.

From those ashes would arise the twin specters of Soviet Communism and National Socialism. Which led to more slaughter and the deaths of millions more.

Yes, I know that today is Veterans Day.

I know we're supposed to remember our dead on Memorial Day.

You remember things your way, I will remember them my way.

I celebrate my freedom every day.

I remember and mourn those who paid for that freedom, every day.

I thank my fellow veterans for their service, not just today, but every day.

But those who fell are never far from my mind.

And never far from my heart.

Thank you.

In Flanders Fields
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders fields 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.


  1. Sarge, this old sailor salutes you, and joins you in remembering ALL who have gone before.

  2. Well done, from another old sailor.

  3. I feel the same way you do about this day. I know how people feel about Veteran's Day and Memorial Day but I have also stood at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day and felt, and understood, the grief that still haunts the Commonwealth over the quite literal loss of almost an entire generation. When I hear the Last Post I get the same feeling that taps brings. Like many of us here I have attended far too many funerals of men who have been our brothers in arms. Some died of old age surrounded by their loved ones. Others died violently in far lands, and some in smoking holes. Each earned my respect and the military honors and a last volley. I'm glad that this country sees fit to have a day to honor veterans. I only wish that the country actually thought about what honoring veterans means. It's not about sales or going to the mall. I'd like to see a little more Remembrance Day.

  4. I am remembering too. It's Rememberance Day here in Canada.... well, yesterday was. I stood at the War Memorial and shivered with the rest of the crowd as the Maple Leaf was lowered and the Last Post sounded. A very important day to me.


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