Monday, May 31, 2004

Never Got Used To Memorial Day

Perhaps that is because I grew up in England where Remembrance Sunday - Poppy Day - is the day of national mourning for dead. Instead in England we have a Bank Holiday today that is free of any gloomy association. Furthermore, Poppy Day, with its deliberate reference to battlefields of the Western Front during World War One, casts a different spell. WWI defined mass death for Great Britain. WWII killed a very large number of Britons but nothing approaching the wholesale slaughter of the Great War. Here WWI is almost a footnote compared to the Civil War, WWII, and Vietnam - the three American conflicts dominant in print and public awareness. Not surprising that these dominate - these were American wars, with WWII given an uniquely American flavor by Pearl Harbor and the war against Japan.

My own empathies lie with WWI - it was there that I lost three great uncles, and where my grandfather flew with the RFC. On Poppy Day, I will feel the full weight.

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