November 11th 1918.
92 years ago today, millions of girls just like me were crying, not unlike the day that will have precede it, or the months that precede those days. But for the first time in four years, they are without a doubt, tears of joy. Maybe some of them already have their husbands, their fathers, their sons, their brothers back in their arms, because night has fallen on a peaceful France, Europe, World.
The end of WWI. The atrocities were over, and in retrospect, had only begun.
My grandmother asked me to attend a ceremony today, and bearing in mind the monuments and plaques that I seem to see everywhere, I got up early, dressed in black and headed out to church.
Churches intimidate me as it is. I played the right hand of a song my host father sang, and my host brother played the organ in mass, stood when called, and said Alleluia with everyone else. But I couldn't help but be distracted and fall behind in the prayers that are unfamiliar to me as it is. My mother tongue is english. Everyone surrounding me were French. Reflecting on all the wars that came before the War to end all Wars, I never could have been here.
And the world still has so far to go, because there is still someone dying tonight.
The graveyard that we went to say a prayer to my host father's parents was beautiful, covered by flower pots left over from Toussaint. The part of the ceremony that we got to consisted of playing the french equivalent of The Last Post, and the mayor reading off the names of the young men who died, to which the solemn crowd muttered each time "mort pour la France" which means died for France. There were men in old uniforms, and an American flag represented, because they liberated this town.
Today is hugely important, more so than May 8th, as is the case Canada as well. However there is a startling difference. Here, November 11th is strictly l'armistice, the end of the first World War, not Remembrance Day, in recognition of peace, and respect for those lost to war. The losses suffered by France in the second World War were a tiny fraction of what they lost in the first, because most of the losses in the Second were members of the resistance: France was taken so swiftly in the second, they didn't lose many men in battle before they were under German rule. The first, on the other hand, was 52 straight months of bloodshed.
I think it's time people swallowed their pride, and accepted that no matter how superficial the statement has become due to medialism, world peace is the greatest dream of them all.
After all, it's the rare, good and dazzlingly simple things in life that are the most sought after.
This post is short, but so too is the day of recognition, and thus sobering to admit that it's fitting.
My closing statement is brief:
The parents, lovers and children we are shooting at recognize that we are parents, lovers and children too. The problem lies in being paranoid and over protective parents, proud lovers eager to come home heroes, and that when both sides are reduced to terrified little children, we'll both just keep shooting.