Last year I was with my mother on November 11th for Rememberance Day ceremonies at her nursing home. I remember how much she enjoyed the outing, slept through the whole shebang. This year, she’s no longer here and at 11 a.m. I found myself somewhere far less reverential, in a busy shop, running late. I don’t wear a watch and didn’t know the time until a bugle suddenly sounded from outside; a few people looked at each other as if wondering what they should do, I mean, in the middle of a store and all, in the middle of shopping. But no one ignored it.
And then—unlike a fire bell where you assume it’s probably not even real—everyone, every single person, just stopped what they were doing. No one came in or went out. The cash registers were quiet, people stood still, stopped talking. I don’t think anyone even looked around. It was just this amazing group action, this vibe of tacit reverence, and whatever individual things were going through individual minds was overshadowed by a kind of collective understanding. Though still taken by surprise in many cases, and distracted to some degree, people were nonetheless willing—seemed grateful even—for the opportunity to recognize this moment, and to do so in a public space—a space that too often keeps people separate. Just for this moment, all of us, strangers from countless backgrounds, saw each other in a different light, one that reminds us that on possibly the only level that really matters we are deeply connected.
And I think we liked that thought very much.
For that and so much more, hats off to the men and women of the past and not so long ago, who did their best on our behalf in the insanity of war.
More than ever, here’s to peace.