Wednesday, November 11, 2015

11-11-1918

My grandfather and grandmother met in France. The year was 1917. They served together in a frontline hospital for the Royal Canadian Medical Expedition. They came home with German helmets, bayonets, zeppelin debris, and medals as souvenirs of that horrible conflict.

Neither had much use for God after witnessing the carnage of trench warfare.

Today I toasted the millions of sacrifices in that bloody conflict. I also thanked the stars that I’ve never had to fire a shot in anger.

Almost a hundred years ago my grandparents were sitting along the Marne for the Armistice.

The truce between the Axis and Allies was signed at 5am, but ceasefire didn't take effect, until the 11th second of the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The guns along the Western Front unloosed their last cannonade for six hours.

The 11th second passed without any abatement in the fury.

Soldiers on both sides had ammo and they weren't taking it home from 'over there'.

It is estimated that over 10,000 men were killed or wounded between 5am and 11am.

The last casualty was reputed to be a Canadian, Private George Lawrence Price.

He was struck in the chest by a German sniper at 10:58am.

One of the 60,000 dead from the Great North.

Pacem in Terrem.

Today I asked a number of New Yorker about Armistice Day, which is a national holiday.

Out of the twenty I questioned only two could say why they had a day off from work.

"As you get old, you forget. As you get older you are forgotten."

But not by me.

I'm a true old git.

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