We celebrate today the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. 

I hope our “world”  has not become too different . . .

There was a time when Americans fought to defend their country.    Americans fought to win.   Fought to defeat the enemy.     No quarters.      (Because if you did give quarter,  they would rise to attack again.    You’ve heard the story of the kind man who nursed an injured snake back to health . . .   ?     The world can be a rough, mean place.)


Here is the deck of the USS Utah,  my grandfather’s ship in 1918.   Actual photo.


The Great War was so shockingly horrible that it was fought to the bitter end with the determination that it would be The War To End All Wars.      And so all the nations signed the armistice that would end War.

It didn’t work.



Our family was involved in this one too.    That’s my Dad.

And our family was involved in the next “war”  that was politically halted; our fighting men were not allowed to win it nor to bring it to an honorable close . . .


Viet Nam.   My cousin.

I woke up this morning  —   Armistice is changed to Veterans Day because now we celebrate the lives and sacrifices of our fighting men in so many more war situations after The first World War;  I woke up this morning and my radio was broadcasting a story about a lost Purple Heart that was returned to its family – after 72 years of being lost.

The search for the family took many, many years,   record-keeping being one of the causalities of war.  The family was so touchingly grateful.  They were receiving confirmation and affirmation and a sense of the reality of their great uncle’s sacrifice,  and they now had a tangible  token of this country’s gratitude.

Hubbie began his genealogy work by looking up his own uncles’  purple hearts, and then searching for the circumstances of their deaths.  In the process the two young men of his family became real to us,  flesh and blood,  not just “two uncles who died  before we were born.”

This is Veterans Day.   Every veteran is real,  flesh and blood,  a member of a real family,  and every veteran has a story.  Some of the stories can’t even be told by the veterans themselves,  because what they sacrificed,  what they endured,  is so far above what we non-veterans have had to experience.

The men in my family were functional again,  after their wars.    I think they were fairly functional.

But others   –   Every morning when I was a young schoolteacher,   Hubbie and I would drive into school and pass by a front yard in the nice little country town where we taught;  in that yard was a young man,  roughly our age.

And he marched.   Back and forth.   Up and down.   Guarding the perimeter.       Every morning when we passed by,  every evening when we passed by in the other direction.  For about two years.

And then we never saw him again.



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