The years roll on, and take their toll. I come to this day a little wearier each time. I have less to say, other than to trot out the familiar phrases—my unease with American jingoism on holidays like this one, where we pretend that the day is to honor the brave and not the fallen, to exult in the nobility of war rather than to lament its destructive wrath; then, more sadly, something pious and humble and mostly true about what the memory of those long dead, especially the dead from the Great War whose hallowed day this November 11th was from the very beginning (and will always be, to me), means to someone born many decades later. You can click on the Veterans Day tag and see the rest, if you like. I hope the collection of my reflections and each year’s poem or poems brings you solace, or solemnity, or anything fitting the occasion.
But that’s more than enough from me: as always, I yield the floor (and will not comment afterwards) to a poet who knew the horrors of war. This is the final section of Alan Seeger’s “Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France”, written in 1916. It has been a century, Alan. Young American volunteers still die—not for France, but for other nations the world over, for causes that (however they seem to us at our safe remove) must have seemed good to them. May we honor their memories as you do. May we end the wars and bring them home before next year, for their sake, and their families’.