So today marks the 99th anniversary of World War I Armistice on November 11th, 1918 at 11 am (the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour).
Since I don’t have a way with words, I’ll be including bits of War Poems here and there which I have always found to be incredibly powerful in humanizing the war and honoring those who lost their lives.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
~ Robert Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen
And here is something that has always bugged me about how the USA treats the day ever since I moved to Hong Kong.
Growing up as a kid in the USA, it was seen as a very celebratory holiday.
Flags fly high (well more than they usually do, which is saying a lot considering USA schools have a flag in every classroom for the pledge of allegiance – something else that is weird about the USA if you think about it too much), discounts for veteran are given for everything and there is a general patriotic sense in the air as you celebrate the heroes fighting for our rights abroad.
There are parades, there are picnics, basically, it is a bit like a toned down 4th of July was more “soldier-ified”
I never realized the significance of that date. November 11th.
You could make the excuse that I was too young to know then, after all, I was 12 when I left.
But that excuse rings hollow.
It’s because I never had a reason to wonder. It’s a holiday to celebrate our troops, what else would it be for?
And now that I do know the importance of the date, the way the USA celebrates what should be a sacred, hallowed day feels….
Sinister to say the least.
Actually no, it’s downright disturbing.
In Hong Kong (and more former/current commonwealth countries), it is a day where you remember those who lost their lives and say “Lest we forget”
Lest we forget the devastating path of destruction conflict leaves behind in its wake.
Lest we forget the human cost of war, not just of our fellow countrymen, but of all of mankind.
Lest we forget the dangers of excessive patriotism and blind faith in those in command.
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Poppies are worn to symbolize the ones in Flanders Fields.
In class, you read war poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Thomas, John McCrae…
Two minutes of silence were observed at 11am in the morning for reflection.
In essence, Veterans Day disturbs me so much because it reminds me a bit of District 2 in the Hunger Games. If you have built up a culture where the military is glorified to the point that the cost of conflict is forgotten, then you get people so eager to leap at the chance to fight, instead of sit down and sort through a slower, yet longer lasting diplomatic option.
So today, I will commemorate those who lost their lives, rather than celebrate the troops fighting wars.
I’ll probably catch some flack from people who think I’m disrespecting our troops by saying that, but I believe war should always be the last option, the worst case scenario, rather than something overtly celebrated and glorified.
I just hope more people in the future (especially to my fellow Americans out there, whether you are still stateside or live abroad like me) understand the significance of Novmber 11th and choose to see it as a sombering reminder of our past.
Because those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.
Prepare for complete tonal whiplash:
I will make up a post for yesterday at a later date, was busy yesterday… busy procrastinating that is, did all the Common core essay stuff today. Will likely skip tomorrows post as well, since I have a lab due tomorrow.
Also not sure if this post is over 500 words but I’m over the time limit anyways. Will make the post look nicer at a later date. etc etc. See you on Monday if I can’t find time to post tomorrow.