Armistice Day -- the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month when a shroud of silence fell upon the Great War -- and red poppies bloomed in Flanders Field.
I am much too young to remember that November day, but what I was taught as a boy was to solemnly remember that there had once been a war as terrible as it was useless -- and for that reason to affix a red poppy to my coat. And ponder,
“What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?”
as all around stood still and silent in remembrance of the silence that at last fell upon those far off fields of death many years ago, in a war that forever dimmed a civilization’s lights.
No... it is not “Veterans Day;” it is not a commemoration of heroism and sacrifice in service State, Potentate or God, nor of "soldiers everywhere at all time" and much less a time for belligerent patriotism or national pride, and still less a time for speechifying or shopping. No, it is none of the things it has been abused into.
Its name distills the vileness of war, the evanescence of peace and the tragedy of a species that is left to remembrance of its folly.