Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Armistice Day

There has been in recent times, a modern revival of the custom of taking a minute's silence on Armistice Day, not on Remembrance Sunday, but on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

In our office, a room is set aside for 11 am. A candle is lit, decorated with a few poppies around its base. For those who wish, they come through at around 10.55 am, and wait for the one minute's silence. I always prepare a small folded A6 piece with selections for contemplation, as well, and below are a selection from this year.

The narrow bridge of mourning
spans generations.

Overnight every dream shows
destruction. Ashes and bones.
Remembrance wells up.
Not only at the cemetery
but when planting, or
listening to the radio.
The moment of silence
lasts forever.

- Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

After the War
After the war perhaps I'll sit again
Out on the terrace where I sat with you,
And see the changeless sky and hills beat blue
And live an afternoon of summer through.

I shall remember then, and sad at heart
For the lost day of happiness we knew,
Wish only that some other man were you
And spoke my name as once you used to do.

May Wedderburn Cannan, In War Time


Lady, whose shrine stands on the promontory,
Pray for all those who are in ships, those
Whose business has to do with fish, and
Those concerned with every lawful traffic
And those who conduct them.

Repeat a prayer also on behalf of
Women who have seen their sons or husbands
Setting forth, and not returning:
Figlia del tuo figlio,
Queen of Heaven.

Also pray for those who were in ships, and
Ended their voyage on the sand, in the sea's lips
Or in the dark throat which will not reject them
Or wherever cannot reach them the sound of the sea bell's
Perpetual angelus.

- T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets

In cities and in hamlets we were born,
And little towns behind the van of time;
A closing era mocked our guiless dawn
With jingles of a military rhyme.
But in that song we heard no warning chime,
Nor visualised in hours benign and sweet
The threatening woe that our adventurous feet
Would starkly meet.

Thus we began, amid the echoes blown
Across our childhood from an earlier war,
Too dim, toos oon forgotten, to dethrone
Those dreams of happiness we thought secure;
While, imminent and fierce outside the door,
Watching a generation grown to flower,
The fare that held our youth within its power
Waited its hour.

- Vera Brittain

Prayer for Remembrance Day
For those who were killed in battle,
For those who gave up their lives to save others
For those who fought because they were forced to,
For those who died standing up for a just cause
For those who said war was wrong,
For those who tried to make the peace
For those who prayed when others had no time to pray
For those creatures who needlessly die
For those trees that needlessly are slaughtered
For all of mankind
let us quietly pray:

May your God hold them in peace
May Love flow over the Earth and cleanse us all
This day and for always.

Marianne Griffin 11am 11 November 2004

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