I was having coffee with a friend today and seeing that there were a lot more people around than the usual slackers and bums like us, he wondered out loud if it was some kind of holiday.
“Armistice Day,” I said. That’s what 11/11 has been to me ever since I became aware that it was a holiday. After World War I, which was only The Great War then, people, sick of war, seeing how now it was fought, agreed to fight no more wars. After the great horror, a great hope.
All day I’ve been seeing people on the intertubes reflecting on the war veterans among their friends and families, as the holiday is now Veteran’s Day. I felt a perplexity within when I thought whether I knew any veterans in my family. I suppose all my family members who survived WWII are veterans in a way, because they all participated in the Resistance in some way. It didn’t make sense to single them out in the same way. It was more important to celebrate the end of war than particular individuals who resisted in a particular way. Everyone in the resistance took risks with their lives, whether they lived and died in Warsaw’s sewers, or sneaked food into the soldiers in the forest.
I don’t want to celebrate the fighting and killing. I don’t want to celebrate that fighting and killing becomes so much of a person’s identity that this is what we call them now, a soldier. I’m not an absolute pacifist. I do believe that sometimes we must fight, and must use violence. But I don’t want to celebrate that.
I want to celebrate armistice, the end of war.