Veteran’s Day / Remembrance Day / Armistice Day

I learnt quite a while ago that the best way to start an argument is to talk about religion or politics. So this is about neither.

If you’ve read my poetry or books you’ll understand my views on war and peace. If you haven’t I suggest you read “Dawn” or “Where the children played“.

Over here, in the USA, Armistice Day was renamed to Veteran’s Day since it was felt that the day should remember all veterans of military service and not just one particular day in one particular war. It’s still held on the 11th day of the 11th month and a silence is observed at 11am.

In the UK people (mostly older folk) wear poppies and some, not all, offices even have a minute or two silence to remember the fallen. On the whole our soldiers are, to most non military Brits, an invisible clichéd rabble of hard drinkers or characters in a video game. Or the focus of a documentary; a shot-peppered young face attached to the stumps of legs. Our eyes well up as they hug their children. Then we go back to the daily grind.

British ex-soldiers do not discuss their service – not even on the 11th day. On Remembrance Sunday we see increasingly wrinkled old men wheeled up to place wreathes at the Cenotaph. The bands play, the bearskins bob as the Grenadiers stamp boots in unison and present arms.

British ex-soldiers wake up on the 11th day and go to work in factories and offices. Friends say the normal “hi”. They work, pack up, go home.

In the US ex-soldiers get free lunches on the 11th day. US ex-soldiers get asked to stand up at yesterday’s school concert and **everyone** gives them a standing ovation and the school head thanks them “for their service”….and means it. US ex-soldiers get people who do not know them walk up and shake them vigorously by the hand. Their warfare is not a dirty secret. They don’t need to have fewer limbs or eyes to be recognized.

So, today I would like to at least directly thank one ‘veteran’ for his service: Andrew O’Brien.

Thank you.


2 thoughts on “Veteran’s Day / Remembrance Day / Armistice Day

  1. That’s interesting how different it is; I know that I’ve had the same impression — that here in England it’s like we “don’t talk about it” but when I’ve seen things about the US and soldiers, I’ve always had the impression that the country sees them all as heroes – no matter what; with respect and honour — which they undoubtedly deserve.


  2. It was not always thus. I rember with disgust the anti-Vietnam rallies in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While the vocal opposition to the war certainly had some validity, primarily because of the incompetency of the civilian leaders, the manner of protest against veterans was reprehensible. I still am torn as to whether they should be condemned en masse to the fifth or the ninth circle of Hell.

    I am less conflicted about Jane Fonda, and am firmly convinced that she is destined for Antenora in the ninth circle – where she can have spirited political discussions with John Kerry.

    Thankfully today, most citizens respect the troops regardless of their opinion of the validity of the current military actions. That is how it should be.

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