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In 1989, I spent the first three weeks of November on my first trip to the UK. I stayed with friends I'd already met in person in the States: Chuch and Sue Harris that April, Walter and Madeleine Willis the December before, Rob Hansen and Avedon Carol a few years before that, if memory serves.

I met other friends in person for the first time: Vin¢ Clarke, James & Peggy White, & ATom....

Chuch, Vin¢, Rob, Avedon, and I went to Novacon 19, my first British convention. I came home from the UK with permanent ties to British fandom and Sixth fandom, ties that grew far broader and deeper in the years that followed. Going back in 1992, I finally met Dave Langford, brisingamen, peake, and so many more friends.

Then there was Precursor and Intersection followed again three years later by the first UK Corflu. Then death stepped in and bolluxed my "every three years" schedule. I was back for Vin¢'s memorial in December, 1998 and then...oh, dear, was the next and my most recent trip the short long weekend for plokta.con Release 2.0 in 2002? Yes, that's most likely.

Back on that first trip, I think I was just back from Norn Iron when the Berlin Wall came down. This week's 20th anniversary celebrations of that rekindled memories of my own 20th anniversary and how pleased I was to be nearby, if not on the continent itself, when the Wall fell.

Then it was November 11th. I grew up with VFW poppies. Even though the name was changed to Veterans Day the year I was born, I knew it first as Armistice Day.

World War I wasn't all that long before. My grandfather fought in it, as did seemingly everyone of his generation. Yes, the Great War had firmly picked up its "I" and "First" when referred to as a World War. It was supposed to have been the war to end all wars, but only a few decades later, we needed to differentiate it from World War II. My father came home from the Army, from the Battle of the Bulge, married mom, and started having what turned out to be three kids. I'm the youngest of those.

In 1989, Sue Harris bemoaned how few people wore poppies or even knew what they meant compared to her own childhood. Her adult children knew, but had no need or desire to wear poppies themselves. "It was all so long ago; it's not relevant. It doesn't matter now."

Only it does, of course. Ever since 1918, it has. I believe it always will. It's not the only war, the only battle for which this is true, but it certainly is one of them.

Sue was noticeably pleased that I grokked the poppies, that I bought one and attached it to my jacket before she'd said a word about her children's generation.

Today, and each November 11th, I'm proud of every person on my friends list and in blogs who noted the date and wrote about its meaning to them. I thank you myself, and I thank you for Sue Harris.

pecunium's post knocked my socks off. If you haven't already done so, please do: 11.11.09. Read, watch battlefield footage from the Somme. Listen to "Hanging on the old barbed wire" embedded in Terry's post.

Then, please, remember.

"It's about life, and death and the birth of hope." — Terry Karney

Thank you.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
If you have time while in Kansas City, have some take you to the National World War One Museum at the Liberty Memorial... it's only a few blocks from the con hotel. After you enter the building but before you enter the museum itself, you must cross a glass-bottom bridge over a field of poppies. http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/12/02/arts/design/02muse.html
Nov. 12th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
Thank you! Both <lj user=benyalow) and I are likely to want to go there if we can make the time.
Nov. 12th, 2009 08:43 am (UTC)
So many people have worn poppies this year that there's comments about 'poppy fascism' and whether people are feeling compelled to wear them.

But this is why: we have men and boys dying in Afghanistan every few days. Most of the public uneasily support this conflict, much more so than Iraq. But it still feels like a very poor business, messy, difficult and with a terrible human cost.
Nov. 12th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
The amnesia may be worse than you have noticed.
My NPR station does a lot of BBC news, and they were all, "Oh, it was terrible, and everybody said so, and we really shouldn't do that sort of thing." While I seem to recall that at the time, anyone who wasn't over-the-top gung ho was taking a serious physical risk . . . It was certainly like that in the U.S.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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