Directly related post here.
Wednesday, Nov. 11, became Armistice Day when the end of World War I was declared as the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month Nov. 11, 1918. In the United States, in 1954, it was renamed “Veterans Day”.
My mother, in her memories of the North Dakota farm where she grew up, remembered Nov. 11, 1918. On that day she was 9 years old: “The hired girl and I were out in the snow chasing chickens into the coop so they wouldn’t freeze when there was a great long train whistle from the Grand Rapids railroad track [about 5 miles away]. In the house there was a long, long telephone ringing to signify the end of World War I.”
One of Grandpa’s hired men apparently was killed in the war; Grandpa, 37 when the U.S. entered the war, wanted to enlist but his German ancestry was apparently a deterrent – we were at war against Germany. Both Grandma and my Mom had and recovered from the World War I flu, which originated on a farm in Kansas, but which has always carried the name “Spanish flu”.
Such are the stories of war and peace.
Sunday we were at a family birthday party in South St. Paul, and on the yard we saw this:
All of these placards were for named veterans which by now have been picked up by the persons who ordered them. This was a project of my daughter, Lauri. I didn’t count them, but I’m sure there were well over one hundred. It’s a very neat idea.
When I saw the signs my memories went back to an early November day in London in 2001. We were by the Westminster Abbey, and there was a yard full of small crosses, each signifying a casualty of WWI. Below are two photos.
At the end of our sojourn in London we were at Gatwick airport, waiting to board our flight home. We embarked on Nov. 11. At precisely 11 a.m. an announcement came on the airport PA, asking for 2 minutes of silence in memory. I will never forget how complete the silence was in that immense terminal.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a purist about War. Sadly, humans will never abolish war for all the reasons we already know.
My allegiance is as a Veteran for Peace; but my background is a family full of military veterans, including myself and my brothers, and a Marine grandson.
Having acknowledged my own ambivalence, war is a fatal malady to which humans, alone among the species, seem addicted.
This year, the 2020 American elections, not yet ended, were like all campaigns I’ve witnessed, using war as a model, full of military references such as “battleground states”. Worse, now we seem to be a nation divided into two tribes in which one ‘side’ must lose, as in the Civil War. We almost reverence division and the need to kill an enemy – yes, our neighbor – whose only sin is to not agree with our side. Mask or not? So it seems to go.
We are victims of our own stupidity.
Most recently, statistics for Covid-19 show 130,553 new cases on Nov. 9, 10.3 million overall in the U.S., 240,000 deaths…. These are numbers you’d see for a very major long-term war, and we don’t seem to care – at least those who think they’ve “won” something or other.
We are all losers, digging an ever deeper hole for our nation. Only we can change the conversation, one effort at a time. This is each of our responsibility.
For this Armistice Day, 2020, a recommendation if you wish: Following is a recommendation from a friend if you wish.
The 2020 Armistice message from Emmanuel Charles McCarthy concludes with this: “This November 11th— the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Treaty of WW I by the politicians who started and perpetuated the infamous bloodbath called World War I—between 8 P.M and 9:30 P.M. the heroic Catholic Christian life of Ben Salmon will be presented by Michael Baxter, PhD and discussed with audience participation. The information needed to register to view and participate in this educational event via computer can be located here. Do consider watching and asking others to watch, especially if you are a Christian or a Catholic.” (continued below: “The rest….”
COMMENTS (more at end of post):
from Jeff: If you get a chance watch “They Shall Never Grow Old”, a documentary by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) really great technical feat that he colorized and reframed old WWI films to modern film speeds, making the soldiers look like humans we would recognize today…..the entire film screenplay is just quotation after quotation from veterans who served, mostly from the UK, but also from Australia, NZ, USA and Canada. Its definitely on HBO, but you might be able to find it on Youtube as well. It functions as a tribute to the vets, and at times to peace as well. Not alot of dwelling on the actual fighting, but enough. More about the total experience.
from SAK, in England: Do take care please Mr Bernard – I know you will!
Wishing you & yours a healthy time ahead cold as it may be.
from Fred: Nice blog piece. I hadn’t thought about those living, during WW1 days, in remote rural districts. They had to rely upon those locals with the ingenuity and ability to spread the word. In Goodhue County, I recall that a large delegation of Zumbrotans hastily organized a celebration with town band and Motor Corp [the Home Guard on wheels] and marched through the streets. They then headed to Pine Island where the locals, already celebrating, followed their own town band out to greet their neighbors. Now united, both groups marched off to Mazeppa.
from Annelee Woodstrom, author of “War Child, Growing Up In Adolf Hitler’s Germany” (still available on Amazon and it is excellent:)
from Jeff, again: I am very pessimistic about the next 90-120 days. we are setting records on hospitalizations now, which was based
also from Jeff: Another day, another COVID-19 case record in Minnesota…— the second-highest one-day total yet after yesterday’s record 56 deaths — were reported Thursday in Minnesota. Health officials reported 292 new hospital admissions, also a single-day record.
from Jermitt: Thanks, Dick for your thoughtful message. Thanks also to your daughter, and those who have written in response to your message. Like you and the others, I’m opposed to war or military action that requires people putting their lives at risk. I too served four years in the army. I was a nurse in the army and was responsible for mending those who were ill or injured. But as you know my real calling was to be a teacher. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and your wisdom.
The rest of McCarthy’s Nov. 6 e-mail is here:
However, Cardinal James Gibbons, the biggest of the big-time players in the U.S. Catholic hierarchy in 1917, under the auspices of some spiritual authority he erroneously thought he had from Jesus, wrote to President Woodrow Wilson after the U.S. declared war on Germany, that the Catholic Church, its priests, its religious and its lay people will henceforth be committed to maiming and killing German Catholics and Protestants in Europe: “Our people, as ever, will rise as one man to serve the nation. Our priests and consecrated women will once again, as in every former trial of our country, win by their bravery, their heroism and their service new admiration and approval…. We are all true Americans, ready to do whatever is in us to do for the preservation, the progress and triumph of our beloved country.”
Living as we do today in a time when it is apparent how easily, quickly and thoroughly the media can generate hate towards people and division among people, we can easily imagine and understand what an isolated human being, Catholic , Protestant or atheist, would encounter if in 1917 he or she resisted the call to arms by the government, by the mass media and by the institutions of what is called the government’s “trust system”, e.g. Churches, Synagogues, private and public schools, religious and secular universities, celebrities, the Knights of Columbus, Masons, the Elks, the Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club, etc., which it has at its disposal to verify government propaganda as Gospel truth. With such an assault on the misinformed or uninformed media-shaped minds of the ordinary citizen who would dare say that the sinking of theLusitania was not the sinking of a passenger ship but of a ship loaded with weapons and munitions camouflaged as a passenger ship? Who would dare say going to war against a nation who would engage in such a savage act—and multitudes of other media concocted savageries besides—was morally wrong? For a Christian to stand up and say, “No,” to following Cardinal Gibbons or President Wilson would not only be foolhardy and a waste of time, it would be bringing down on oneself all the misery and even death that the government and its “trust system” institutions could muster.
However, a married Catholic Christian with a family in Denver, Colorado, by the name of Ben Salmon did just that and suffered the consequences of not “going along and getting along” with the summons to mass homicide by U.S. government leaders, by the U.S. Church leaders, by the U.S. media moguls—and by his enraged fellow Christians and citizens full of hate of the enemy.