Today is Armistice Day here in France, Remembrance Day in the UK, and Veterans Day in the US. It was originally a day set aside to mark the end of the First Great War – the War to End All Wars. Sadly, that dream was never realized. Today Scotty and I attended a commemoration service at Notre Dame held by the Royal British Legion and attended by representatives of all the allied nations from World Wars I and II. It was a somber and solemn service; it’s purpose for honoring those who had died in both wars, and those who continue to be devastated by war and conflict. This service is held every year on the 11th of November and is also the only service performed entirely in English. As I was sitting there and we were reminded that this is the first year that are no surviving World War I veterans in Europe, and I started thinking about the first celebration of this day. Both in Europe and America, it was Armistice Day – the day that marked the end of a horrific war and caused the slaughter to cease. I think it’s important to remember that. Maybe it’s that recent trip to Normandy and hearing about how truly horrific war is or the effect of reading an article on American veterans suffering from PTSD, but it’s important to recognize that this day was established as a celebration of peace and the hope that it would continue. These past five years of living in Europe have shown me a different side to this day. I’ll never forget walking through Edinburgh at 11:11 on Remembrance Day and hearing the canon fire and the ringing of the church bells. For one minute everyone stopped, the city held its breath and there was quiet. Today in the church service, we all stood for a moment of silence. That silence is so powerful. As someone who has never experienced war in my own country and who knows no one who has, it’s remarkable to live among people who do. It adds a weight to the significance of this day. It’s more than Facebook status updates about remembering veterans, it’s more than Veteran’s Day sales. This day is a day of hope for peace.
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