Monday, November 12, 2007


Yesterday was Remembrance Day, a holiday in my native Canada, which is similar to Veteran's Day except that we tend to honor the heroes of past wars as opposed to, say, shopping for discount mattresses (hey America, don't blame me, you're the ones who decided to celebrate every major holiday with a sale at Macy's).

November 11, 1918 marked the end of the First World War; in Canada the day is marked with a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. It's generally a somber (or sombre) holiday, though occasionally marred by lapses of judgment that can make the ceremonies seem incredibly tacky (such as the time my sixth grade teacher made us all listen to "Remembrance Day" by Bryan Adams). I often find myself thinking of Blackadder (the fourth series, "Blackadder Goes Forth") at this time of year, which is my preferred onscreen representation of WWI. (If that sounds a bit glib, remember that humor is a way of coping with grief, and watch the final episode of the show to see a truly moving tribute.) Moments of levity mix with sorrow and wry humor in these half-dozen episodes, and Hugh Laurie is particularly good as Lt. George.

Occasionally, on this day, one finds moments of pure awe, such as when you come across sites like these, which I found on the Blogger main page. WWI: Experiences of an English Soldier painstakingly transcribes the correspondence of William Henry Bonser Lamin day by day (so you know exactly what he was doing ninety years ago today:

"Today, 11th November 1917 the Division arrived in Italy and started on the long march to the front line..."


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