Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A remembrance for peace, not war

Years ago we changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in this country. And slowly the tradition of falling silent in the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, to remember the end of World War I, fell by the wayside.

It is right to honor veterans, and their families. But I think you'd be hard pressed to find a soldier who doesn't prefer peace to war.

From Kurt Vonnegut, a veteran of World War II:
When I was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one and another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Thank you to the soldiers who fight when called. May God rest the souls of those who never returned. And may we all, one day, celebrate the existence of peace. Until then, let us commemorate its hope.

UPDATE: The holiday was renamed in 1954 by an act of Congress. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation calling upon people to "pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation."

From the Proclamation:
On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.

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