My friend, the writer Janet Hulstrand, lives in France, where she makes observations on literature and life. On November 11th, she wrote a wonderful blog post entitled, In France, It’s Still Called Armistice Day.
Janet begins her post as follows:
The war memorial in our little village in Champagne is much like the war memorials found in every little village in France I’ve ever been in: on three sides of the base are carved the names of those who gave their lives “pour la France” during World War I. And on the fourth side, the names of those lost in World War II.
The German invasion of France in 1940, just 22 years after the end of World War I, was achieved with stunning speed. And forever after the French have endured shallow, frivolous jokes about that defeat, which was of course anything but funny.
Those who make jokes about French resistance (or lack thereof) are usually right-wing blowhards who generally did everything in their power to avoid military service. But as Janet notes, the massive loss of life France suffered in both World War I and II (“Per capita, French casualties were 30 times higher than the US ones during WWI and 5 times higher during WWII….”) can be seen in these war memorials.
Janet provides more story, and then ends with this wonderful quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions.
So this book is a sidewalk strewn with junk, trash which I throw over my shoulders as I travel in time back to November eleventh, nineteen hundred and twenty-two.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one 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.
What a wonderful thought. The Voice of God was heard when peace arrived.
Do yourself a favor and read Janet’s full post. You’ll appreciate her writing, but – more importantly – you’ll find something sacred.
More to come…