Every year, I have nothing to say about our observance of Veteran's Day, for the simple reason that there is nothing adequate to say. The songs and poems celebrating those who make the ultimate sacrifice--Rupert Brooke's, for example--seem saccharine to me, and those mourning them are so often so grim--think Siegfried Sassoon, or the brilliant Wilfried Owen--as to be, well, disrespectful, in the mouth of one who, like me, fell outside of the time periods of conscription, and did not feel the call to serve. Owen, Sassoon, and Brooke each earned their views; I cannot parrot them.
And so, as before, I fall back on two things: Thanks, to the veterans in my life, especially those who are no longer with us, my beloved grandfather, and beloved step-grandfather. The latter, whom we called "Uncle Fred", served in World War II, and helped liberate a concentration camp. Uncle Fred possessed, or was possessed by, that awesome gentleness that some men attain when they have seen much too much of humanity's dark side. I am grateful that I had them pin my life, as I am for all the veterans who have touched me.
And second? The music of Samuel Barber. A second hand gift, from me, but of the finest quality:
Remember the Fallen.