Friday, November 11, 2011

Armistice Day

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  That is when the armistice ending World War I was signed.  I grew up hearing about Armistice Day (now called Veterans Day in the U.S., to honor all veterans) from the time I was a small girl because my mother's birthday was November 11.  She knew her birthday was special, and she shared that with us.

I was in England in 1996 on Armistice Day (they still call it that).  Everything stopped at 11:00 a.m. -- drivers pulled over, radios didn't play anything, and people stopped moving and talking.  For two minutes the country remembered the sacrifices and deaths it endured during World War I.  It was a very moving experience.

A friend of mine in Chicago goes every year on Veterans Day and places a flower on the grave of Zalman, the grandfather of a friend of mine in the Bay Area.  Zalman served from 1917-1918 and was in France during the Armistice.  He wrote to a girlfriend during the war, and when he returned he asked her to type up all the letters he had written to her, so my Bay Area friend has a fascinating collection of letters he wrote from the war front.  As much as he was permitted to, he included where he was writing from, so we have a pretty good idea of his movements throughout his tour and what he experienced.

On Veterans Day this year I particularly want to honor my stepson and daughter-in-law, who both served in the U.S. Army, but I also am thinking of all members of armed forces, past and present.  They sacrifice a lot in the service of their country, and they deserve our thanks.

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