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bear by san

March 2017



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spies sandbaggers sense of occasion

With extra feeling this year. It was a war to end all wars.

“I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

“It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one and another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

“Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.

“So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

“What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

“And all music is.”

             --Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut, 1973


As with every year, I thank you for this.
You are very welcome.
Thank you.
Bizarre moment of the day, as a Canadian: having to explain to our American trainer why, at 11:11, we needed to stop what we were doing. I wanted to send her this essay.

I still stop, whatever I'm doing, for sixty seconds.
I was just in Berlin, a few days before the 50th anniversary of the erection of the Wall. I was in Dresden before that -- there are still a few bombed-out buildings, here and there, which haven't been rebuilt. Between the two, Wittenberg, and before them Prague.

I've been thinking a lot about history and its long, long echoes.

I was traveling with my grandmother and sister. The fact that, when my grandmother was not too much younger than I am now, the most infamous mass-murderer in history was newly dead, and the country was a gutted ruin, and seventy years on here we are wandering streets lined with Guccis and Apple resellers...

It gives me hope that I may yet visit Tehran, or Baghdad, or Damascus, or Jerusalem in peace, before I die.
I work on phones, so it can be very difficult to take a moment of silence during my working day, but every year I have a reminder in my calendar to take that moment.

And I wear a poppy in my hatband every day as a reminder.

Lest we forget.

Thank you, Bear.