So tomorrow is 11/11/11. A binary lover’s, an astrologer’s and a Black Jack player’s dream. And of course something far more important. In America it is known as Veterans Day. The annual federal holiday honoring military veterans.
The date commemorates the armistice signed by the Allies of World War I in France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front. It took effect at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.
Tomorrow will unite millions of people across the globe. The day may go by different names. In Commonwealth countries like Australia, Canada and the UK, we call it Remembrance Day. In France and Belgium it remains Armistice Day. But it is marked. In many countries, people take a two-minute silence at 11AM as a sign of respect.
Here in America, there will be a ceremony at Arlington and a number of regional sites. In Britain the main services will be on Sunday. Members of the royal family lay wreathes at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall. This is a legacy of World War Two. The commemoration was moved so as not to interfere with war-time production.
For those of us in Commonwealth countries, the poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day. Poppies were the first flowers to grow in some of World War I’s worst battlefields. Their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.
I’m wearing the British version. Sold on UK streets by volunteers it is our highest profile charity campaign. This week, there was a national outcry when international soccer’s ruling body, FIFA, tried to ban the England team from wearing poppies. The money raised from their sale goes to armed forces charities.
Dylan recently did a touching segment on America’s thousands of wounded warriors. Information on how to help them can be found at woundedwarriorproject.org and operationhomefront.net.
Almost 1% of Americans serve, voluntarily, for the military. A 1% of Americans who ask not what their country can do for them, but do something for their country.
To get to grips with our problems in America and Europe, sacrifice must be shared. The military and their families have done their bit. Perhaps food for thought, especially tomorrow, for the other 1% that’s recently been occupying the news.
The Armistice in 1918 was supposed to be the end of “the war to end all wars”. It was not to be. Since then millions have given their lives so we can remain free. As Kipling wrote, “lest we forget”. Tomorrow, we will remember.