"eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month"

Today, November 11th, is Armistice Day, the day 91 years ago when the First World War officially came to an end. As an undergraduate when I spent an academic year at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, I was struck by the omnipresence of the World Wars on the landscape and architecture in Britain. Public memorials proliferated: in churches, schools, high streets, shops, public parks, town squares, train stations . . . name a space and somewhere there will be some sort of memorial plaque or monument or dedication to the fallen. Perhaps it was because of my status as a foreigner (one sees more as a visitor than as a resident in any space), but I did come away with the feeling that Britons co-exist with their collective memories of war and loss in a way that Americans, so often, do not. We remember war, sure, but we are uncomfortable facing the reality of violence, preferring instead to depict war as a triumphant enterprise.

One of my favorite memorials from Aberdeen is this mosaic, funded by a woman who lost three sons during the Second World War, all pilots in the RAF. It is located on the King's College campus in Old Aberdeen, and I used to walk passed it frequently on my way to and from classes, the library, and errands on High Street.

I don't really have any Big Thoughts for today other than to encourage all of us to take a few minutes in the midst of whatever our regularly-scheduled plans are to reflect on how often humanity is, indeed, inhumane. And how we live with that reality every day -- whether we choose to collectively memorialize it or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment