Flanders Field, thoughts on a 10th of November
One hundred and one years ago tomorrow, at 11:11:11 in the morning, the world celebrated the first purported Armistice Day. A day in which the War to End all Wars finally … paused. All the while, however, the politicians of the victorious Entente Powers were scheming with financiers and munitions manufacturers and yellow journalists to assure that wars would continue unabated. As is so often the case, the slogan was its own antithesis.
In their supplications to whatever gods they worshipped, politicians and financiers and munitions manufacturers and yellow journalists, terrified rather than elated by that special instant in time, probably prayed, as they do now, for forever wars instead. Wars, their cornucopia, their paradise lost regained.
In order to assure that their prayers were answered following the most massive slaughter the world had ever seen, those politicians and financiers and munitions manufacturers and yellow journalists divided their conquests into segments so incoherent that continuing strife and conflict and violence would be guaranteed and just to be on the safe side, they humiliated the vanquished in a manner designed to assure that the armistice would be temporary, as armistices are wont to be. Their ploy had a name, the Treaty of Versailles.
Over time, as the armchair warriors’ prayers came to fruition and countless other people’s children and fathers and brothers, and wives and daughters and mothers and girlfriends and boyfriends were slaughtered and maimed, names had to be changed. The “War to End All Wars” became “World War I” and in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former five star general, officially changed the name of “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day”. So we now celebrate that date, not in honor of a cessation in hostilities, but in honor of all the maimed and deceased that our political leaders, their propagandist media and their military industrial masters keep producing. In honor of the best among us, it’s true, but also the most abused, the most deprecated, the ones whose lives are most wasted and whose families are most devastated.
Perhaps a further name change is called for. Perhaps we need a day to dishonor and despise politicians and war mongers and profiteers and corrupt yellow journalists, and perhaps given its history, November 11, at 11:11:11 a.m. is the right day and the right time for such a memorial.
And perhaps it’s one we should bear in mind every time we go to the polls to exercise our civic duty in selecting those to whom we entrust our lives, our property and our sacred honor.
Thoughts of a Citadel graduate remembering his fallen brothers and so very many others.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2019; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.