Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

I remember sitting in a cafe on Nov. 11th, 1983 in the Town Hall Square (RatHausPlatz) in Bonn, Germany at 11:11 AM. I noticed that some oddly dressed fellows were performing a ceremony, and asked my friend what that was.

"It's the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. One of those fellows is the Mayor, performing a ritual for Karneval (Mardi Gras to those of us who know New Orleans). It's the official countdown to Karneval."

What I didn't know (and should have, as an history student),

was that it was also Armistice Day, and that there was a tradition after World War I to honor the dead.

According to Wikipedia,
An Act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday; "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."

Like Mother's Day, founded as a peace holiday by Julia Ward Howe, writer of the
Mother's Day Proclamation,
and International Women's Day, founded by woman union activists;
the holiday has been re-purposed by those with more power.

But perhaps today, with the anti-nuclear movement on the rise, echoing the events of 32 years ago, we can take some hope.

11:11 AM on 11/11 is a good time to pray for the dead,
and resolve to fight like hell for the living.

A similar piece (and more informed) at

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