Friday, November 11, 2011

Honor Guard

 November 11th-- Veterans Day -- Armistice Day -- 11/11 -- 11/11/11 11:11

It's been a big day.  It's also been a confusing day to know what and how to celebrate.  President Woodrow Wilson, who proclaimed Armistice Day in 1919 said, "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

So, one vote from a dead president for being filled with solemn pride.  That's great, except that I had to work today.  The ivy covered halls of academia doesn't observe Veterans Day by cancelling classes and closing the university. Any honoring or filling with solemn pride would have to happen on my own time.

Predictably speaking, the Internet likewise blossomed with free advice about what to do and how to do it.  Facebook showed lots of flags, inspirational quotes and personal thanks by name.  Twitter was similarly upbeat, with lots of quotes and thanks.  Even Google got in on the act, with its Tony Orlando and Dawn inspired doodle.

And right now the clock says 11:11.  On 11-11-11.
Now it's 11:12.   Anything particularly newsworthy or special that needed to get accomplished on this perfect binary day should have been completed and turned in 60 seconds ago.

11-11-11 has been absolutely everywhere: on the television, in the media, and ALL OVER the Internet. It's supposed to be a lucky day.  It's popular with brides and grooms, and anybody with a wish that needed wishing.

How to observe two totally different days?  11-11-11 is a rare day, and right now we are 20 minutes into our 100 year wait for the next one.  But is there anything more to this date than the numerical oddity of a string on 1's?  And how about Veterans Day?  While this day demands a certain degree of gravitas, it also incorporates loud, patriotic chest thumping with moments for quiet reflection and heartfelt thanks. 

Observing holidays, memorial days, historical remembrance days, and calendar anomalies are important in their own right, but the true mark of honoring a "special" day is what happens 24 hours later.  And 48 hours later. And 72 hours later.  Anyone can cut and paste a Facebook status full of exclamation points and waves made out of hearts.  But what happens November 12th?  Or December 15th?  Next February?  Veterans deserve thanks and support -- comprehensive support -- every single day of the year.  And as singularly special 11-11-11 is, 11-12-11 is equally unique and special ... if you choose to make it so.

So, to all who have passed through these paragraphs today, I wish you both a Happy Veterans Day and a wonderful Binary Friday.  But as wonderful as these days will be, I hope tomorrow will be even better.  Honor our Veterans by remembering, supporting and thanking them every single day.  And no matter what the date on the calendar might be, every single day is a unique 24-hour period of time.  Make your time and presence in this world worth every second.

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