On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918 of the Common Era (there having been precious little evidence of the presence of “Our Lord” in the muddy trenches of western Europe), the shooting stopped in Flanders fields, bringing an end to the First World War.

The War To End All Wars, Adolph.

It rearranged empires. It begot massive personal and national fortunes and then callously broke them on the anvils of hyperinflation and economic depression. It dropped men and women (25 out of every 100 or even more) on bread lines, and bred demagogues, Mr. Limbaugh, to feed them on a diet of anger.

And in a mere 21 years, the shooting started again. A war thought so horrific that no sane person would ever risk war again, a war that blasted millions of lives in mere days, led to another that blasted millions of lives in mere seconds. Despite which, no one proclaimed at its end that “now we have seen the worst.”

Some historians, I understand, argue that what we call the First World War ended, not in 1918, but (maybe) in 1989, with the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the empire that constructed it. When the focus of war changed, from the grapplings of European titans to the efforts to bring down the last titan standing by pecking at it and watching it slap itself silly.

A quarter of a million Iraqis, or rather their loved ones, regret being in the path of the flying elbows.

On this Veterans Day, I have not seen any poppies. There used to be poppies, handed out by men in uniform in remembrance of those who lie under the poppies of Belgium, in their own personal trenches in Flanders fields.

Perhaps We the People have read the poem, and are resisting the lemming call to enlist, to follow the dead into the carnage, into the wastage of persons and treasure that is war.

Or perhaps it’s just too much of a nuisance to have to deal with a gnarled old soldier who’s working the mall when you want to go shopping.

After all, Christmas is coming.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. Is it because war is simply becoming a way of life? Maybe we should all go ahead and wipe each other out, then the planet can start over. Maybe next time it’ll do a better job and create beings that are intelligent as well as sapient.

    • Q, war has been a way of life for the human species ever since the first band of hunter-gatherers discovered that those b-tards over the hill were taking all the wooly mammoths. Hard to see how the next batch of sentients would do better than the present one. We refuse to learn from our mistakes, even after we publish them. Without history, the dolphins or whatever won’t have anything to learn from.

      • Bill, poppies featured prominently in US Veterans Day ceremonies in my youth. Less so now, though a group of veterans passed them out at a grocery store on O‘ahu’s leeward side a couple of years ago.

        We’re told that, without the spending sprees of the Christmas season, a lot of American businesses would go bankrupt. That almost sounds to me like blackmail …

  2. Thoughtful post, I didn’t realize that Poppies were once passed out in the US, I only thought it was the Countries of the {once} British Empire that had Poppies.

    I’ll be glad when 26 December gets here and life returns to Normal. Lets hear it for the Almighty Dollar when people all of a sudden “Find Religion” and have to spend like crazy.

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