Remembrance Day 1

Today is Veterans Day, a day of recognition, appreciation, and honor for those who have served in our nation’s military.  Originally known as Armistice Day, the annual commemoration had its first observance on November 11, 1919, by order of President Woodrow Wilson to honor veterans of World War I and to mark the first anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which brought an end to the Great War.  The Armistice was signed by Germany at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.  In the 1950s, the holiday’s name was officially changed to Veterans Day and was expanded to honor all U.S. military veterans.  Today, there will be numerous ceremonies and parades, and millions of flags will fly across the country.  Last week’s tragic shooting and loss of life at Fort Hood will no doubt heighten the emotions of the day. 

Other nations that were involved in World War I will be commemorating this day as well.  In the United Kingdom and among other nations of the British Commonwealth, November 11 is celebrated as Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day and Armistice Day.  Your desk calendar or daily planner may note that today is Remembrance Day in Canada. 

Mark Knopfler’s latest cd, Get Lucky, includes a track entitled, “Remembrance Day.”  While the song references many traditions that are far more British than American (i.e., morris dances, cricket, poppies, etc.) and the video images below are related to commemorations in the U.K., the sentiments are identical to those of U.S. citizens who wish to honor the service of our veterans.  Names like Alfie, Bill, Ken, Sam, Andy, Jack, John, Charlie, Martin, Jamie, Ron, Harry, Stephen, Will, Don, Matthew, and Michael were shared by both American and British troops. 

The final verse of the song reads:

“When November brings the poppies on Remembrance Day; when the vicar comes to say, ‘May God bless them, every one; lest we forget our sons.’  We will remember them.”

The last song on Get Lucky is “Piper to the End.”  The liner notes include the following explanation from Knopfler:  “Piper to the End is for my Uncle Freddie, Lance Corporal Frederick John Laidler, a piper of the 1st Battalion, Tyneside Scottish, The Black Watch, RHR, who carried his pipes into action and was killed with them at Ficheux, near Arras, on the 20th of May, 1940, aged 20.”  The notes also indicate that all proceeds from “Remembrance Day” and “Piper to the End” will go to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.  It is refreshing to see recording artists using their influence to assist veterans’ organizations.

As appropriate as it is for us to observe Veterans Day, we are even more privileged as Christians to celebrate Remembrance Day every Sunday in the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine.  This, too, is an acknowledgement of great suffering and a sacrifice that was made for our eternal good and blessing.  And, being celebrated each Resurrection Day, it affirms our faith that victory has been assured; victory over sin, victory over death, and victory over hell.  The Victor is coming!