Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Remembrance Day"

I suppose everyone chooses the portals through which to allow their sorrows to enter. For me, music and silence can oil the hinges of what is sometimes edge-less and consuming and, be it said, imaginative.

Across the Atlantic pond, today is "Remembrance Day," the day on which World War I ended in 1918 after an incalculable bloodbath. Nov. 11 touches America too ... as "Veterans Day." When you can't even remember what happened last week, it seems a bit odd to 'remember' a war and peace so long ago. Still, perhaps it is worth the effort, however confected.

A small BBC historical backgrounder on Remembrance Day begins with the observation,
Despite the jubilation, many people felt it was wrong to celebrate because so many people had died during the war.
Some will let the vastness of sorrow in through their portals and some won't.

I choose to feel the stunned silence of sorrow in the bugle call above. The horror and vileness did not end with the end of World War I. It is hugely sad in my mind. Too big to pray or praise ... all I can do is listen.


In William Shirer's "Berlin Diary," there is a scene I recall but am too lazy to look up. Adolph Hitler, the man who had yet to become a supreme dictator of later years, stood on a balcony (of the Chancery?) in 1933 and addressed a crowd below. He was celebrating (perhaps) his improbable ascendancy to the post of Chancellor. Everyone knew his bellicose agenda and the fact that that agenda would lead to war. In later times, the throngs would swell to thousands of people, but on this occasion, Shirer reported, there were a mere 200 people to applaud. 1933 was close enough to 1918 so that many remembered the raw prices paid for war. Memories fade or are embellished. It is the way of the world.

Of the 535 American congressmen currently serving and tussling with a "war powers act," 97, or less than 18%, served in the military. Given the proven inabilities of those congressmen to come to fruitful agreements, I question the notion of giving Congress the capacity to send my children to what may be their deaths. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and those congressmen may be well-intentioned, but whether they have a basis on which to be prudent, I have my strongest doubts.

1 comment:

  1. Suffering and unsatisfactory might be sufficient terminology for sorrow, loss and regret, but somehow they don't stand up against the horror. Maybe it's just me.