In the elevator today, the girl next to me asked, “is it a sort of holiday? Or a semi-holiday? A lot of people seem to be walking around out of work.” I guess she was asking me because I’d said “shabbat shalom” to guy in a yarmulke who’d just stepped out.
I thought about it and said, “Oh. Veterans Day.”
Here, that’s a holiday for people who work in post offices and banks. In Canada, it’s Remembrance Day today – and that is something much bigger. I suppose the American Memorial Day is more comparable, but I didn’t grow up with that.
Instead, I grew up with Remembrance Day, and the poppy in my lapel. I played my trombone in a brass quartet at the War Memorial in Oak Bay my last few years of high school. I remember standing there, in my band uniform, playing hymns, while my father stood close by, talking about WWII with other British expatriates.
I remember a moment of silence at 11:11, every year on 11/11, because that was when the Armistice was signed for WWI. Every Canadian schoolchild knows that, along with the words to “Flanders Fields”.
For all the talk of “fighting for the flag” and “those who died for our freedoms” in this country, I don’t see the same quiet, universal reverence. And I certainly do not see the same solemn approach to war as something to be avoided, not to be sought out.
It takes a moment of confusion over the date, just to clarify that kind of difference. I’ll be sitting quietly at my desk for sixty seconds at 11:11 anyways though. And I’ll pray, during that time, that we stop creating more veterans for a while.