Remembering the fallen

remembering the fallen
Today is Veterans Day, also known as Remembrance Day and Armistice Day because in 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, World War One ended.

For four years the nations of the world had torn each other apart. The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, the Ottoman Empire was mortally wounded, Germany’s Kaiser’s fell and so did Russia’s Czar. The world changed forever and 20 million people were dead.

There are countless monuments honoring those killed. The most powerful, I think, is this one. It’s called The Grieving Parents and was erected in 1932 by Käthe Kollwitz, a German artist. Kollwitz’s youngest son Peter was killed while serving in the German army. The monument is in the cemetery at Vladslo, Belgium, where he’s buried. The faces of the parents are those of Käthe and her husband. Her husband looks at Peter’s grave while Käthe bends over in grief. So many young men are buried in this cemetery that Peter’s name shares a tombstone with nineteen others.

Whether you’re on the road or staying at home today, there’s probably a war memorial near you where people are remembering the fallen. Take a moment to visit it, even if it’s for the “other side.” After all this time that doesn’t really matter.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Happy birthday King Wangchuck and other national holidays

Going to a far-flung destination and want to connect with the people and see something special? One easy way is through local and national holidays. These are often unique to a particular country and provide insights into its culture and history. But it can often be hard to find out what’s going on next week in Tuvalu.

The Holidays Around the World blog is your answer, providing daily updates on all the major happenings. Today, for example, is the birthday of the fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. He abdicated last year, but his birthday is still a national holiday. The website does more than list holidays, it goes into detail about what you can expect while you’re there. Today the people of Bhutan are celebrating by eating emadatse (chili pepper and cheese stew) and chang (warm beer made from barley, millet or rice). If it’s anything like Tibetan chang, be careful. With the high altitudes in the Himalayas this stuff gave me the worst hangover I’ve ever had.

November 11 is, of course, the anniversary of the end of the First World War. The ceasefire started on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. The soldiers on both sides knew it was coming, but instead of keeping a low profile until the war officially ended, they blasted away at each other with a massive artillery barrage. People are weird. This holiday is known as Armistice Day in France, Remembrance Day in Canada, and a more general Veterans Day in the United States.

So head on over to this cool little blog, and don’t forget to dance in the streets tomorrow to celebrate Azerbaijan’s Constitution Day.