A moment of silence is observed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month because that is when the guns went silent for the armistice that ended World War I, one hundred years ago today.
This day is Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Veterans Day. The silence should resound throughout the countries who observe it under those different names, as we recall the sacrifice of those who fought on our behalf.
How could we forget? Easily. We might neglect this history in our primary schools. We might create a university system dedicated to recasting those heroes who rose to meet challenges of personal and cultural annihilation as, at best, quaint throwbacks to an unenlightened age or, at worst, dupes of a “system of power, privilege, and oppression.”
We might wear Che T-shirts, ignorant of the man’s evil. We might stage protests under flags displaying the Swastika, oblivious. We might call our neighbors Fascists if they utter an opinion with which we disagree, because we don’t really know what fascism is.
Instead, let us express our gratitude to those who defended us at Ypres, Belleau Wood, Dieppe, Iwo Jima, The Bulge, the Chosen Reservoir, Khe Sanh, and Fallujah. Let us display a humble respect for those who gave their lives on behalf of the ideal of individual freedom.
Without our continuing consciousness of their effort, those who have died and those who die tomorrow protecting our liberty, are literally dust. If we do not honor these heroes, we are likely to lose our way of life by the worst possible means – the habit of thinking things had to be the way they are and not some other way. We need to reflect on just how amazing it is that we’ve escaped Hobbes’ description of life as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” and how fragile the achievement is.
A moment of silence is a pittance to pay in gratitude to fallen warriors and to revive failing memories.
Update, 11:10. In the interests of remembering, the incomparable Mark Steyn:
The War That Made the World We Live In