Friday, November 11, 2005

Armistice Day - Veteran's Day

Perhaps one reason Americans have such a crazed love-hate relationship with all things French is that so many of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers invested a considerable amount of blood, sweat and tears "over there" kicking German asses back to where they belonged.

It's like reverse homesteading. The descendants of Europeans had to go back to Europe to bail the relatives out of an intermural brawl. Most of those who went didn't really want to go but felt it their sacred obligation to do so, to try to help. We feel like, as a people, we made an investment in the everlasting success of the nation called France. When things don't go well, or when French speaking persons taunt us unmercifully as they are wont to do on occasion, we get a bit testier than when, say, Sri Lankans diss us. (Sri what? Oh, the old Ceylon? Are those guys still chasing Commander Adama? ...)

(Short pause while we slap ourselves back into reality.)

Many thousands of our relatives did not return. They occupy the known and unknown gravesites throughout France and other parts of Europe, the crosses and stars of David engraved on many of the markers. Today, November 11, the original Armistice day now 87 years behind us in time, we rightfully and gratefully pause to remember and honor those mostly young souls who sacrificed themselves for others. Young men who would not return home to wives and sweethearts, who would never again taste hot buttered corn-on-the-cob, home-made bread with real butter, who would miss out on the Roaring 20s and the Fabulous 50s. Men who either would not continue their family bloodlines or else would not see their youngsters grow to adulthood. Young men, some barely out of school, who would never grow old enough to growl at their sons and say, "What the hell are you doing with your hair like that?"

And all because of a belief, strong in most Americans still, that each free individual has a responsibility to help free other individuals. It is a belief, a faith, that causes us to illogic leaps of heroism. It is a passion that, sadly, some people today will not try to understand.

In honor of all of those men who fought in those two wars, including the ones who did come home, or in any of the other wars before or since that have inspired such gallantry, we reprint the classic tribute of the World War One dead:


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.

*Thanks to the Llamas for passively letting us hijack the poem today.


Post a Comment

<< Home