On a Day of Elevens

November 11, 2011 – 11/11/11 – and then we can expand this to include the 11th second of the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month of the 11th year in the century. We also know that 11 is the lowest positive number with three syllables, but I have not knowingly encountered an 11-sided polygon (which happens to called a hendecagon or undecagon).

Today is much more important than a post about elevens, and important enough to forego my normal Friday feature of Opinions in the Shorts – today is Veteran’s Day.

As I looked ahead to this day earlier in the week, I was thinking about my dad, who passed away in September 2010. As an eighteen year old, he left high school early to join the army during WW II. Obviously, he was one of the younger soldiers. Being that he would have turned 85 in a few weeks serves as a reminder that the number of surviving WW II veterans is rapidly dwindling. Besides, 2011 is the year of the passing of the last surviving WW I veteran – Frank Buckles.

We baby boomers grew up in a time with that war fresh in the minds of many. Who knows how many movies, television shows, and documentaries we watched during our youth. We didn’t live that war – yet the effects of that time. We lived a good life because of the efforts of many – and led by those who Tom Brokow called The Greatest Generation.

Although a day will come when the last WW II veteran is no longer physically with us, we have memorials throughout the land that are designed as a reminder to the living.

On this Veteran’s Day, we celebrate all veterans who served in our armed forces at any time in any war and in time of peace, but a special tip of the hat to those WW II soldiers – those who fell in combat, those who have passed on, and those who still are alive.

18 thoughts on “On a Day of Elevens

  1. Today not only reminds us of all those who have served in the 238+ years of the United States Armed Forces, but also to remind us of those who have stood to defend their countries and their people around the world. Whether our brothers and sisters in Britain and her Commonwealth, our friends in Europe, or former friends and foes in Asia and Africa and South America, we should remember all those who have stood to defend freedom and human rights.
    To all those serving or who have served, thank you. And to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we remember. Today, and every day, we will remember you.

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  2. Wasn’t it only this year that the last WW I veteran passed away?

    I agree with the legacy of the greatest generation being very impressive. It still feels strange to me how WW II has gone from being living history (that most people remembered) to book history (something people have only read about and not even their parents have direct recollection of during my life.

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    • Bruce,
      Correct about the last WW I veteran – Frank Buckles (who I believed passed away in February 2011). Wow! I had not thought about the transition from living history to book history. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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  3. The transition isn’t complete yet. There are a fair number of WW II vets around (my dad for one). But when I was a kid, at a family reunion, the topic could often become talk about the war years, rationing at home, time in the service (in combat, often not)… Now if you talk about “the” war, it’s very possible that someone will ask what war you mean. I grew up with the show Combat on TV. The whole adult population had WW II as a shared experience in one way or another.

    Now most adults don’t even have the memory of stories told by living family or loved ones of those times. And kids? At most their parent or more likey grandparent tell them what they were told by the previous, and likely dead generation. It doesn’t have the same impact.

    I think broadly shared experiences are more rare now. Afterall, military service is taken on by a small percent of population now. I think that’s one reason we keep going to war so much.

    The transition to bookhistory is about 70-80% done for WW II I’d say.

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    • Bruce,
      Excellent points. In a discussion this weekend, I said that the time will come when 9-11 will diminish in living memory – just as other events as WW I and the trend with WW II … and I could tell that I stimulated some thinking.

      Meanwhile, we grew up at the same time so I know what you mean … so I found this video for you.

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