Today is Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, which originally commemorated the anniversary of the end of World War I with a minute of silence during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Kurt Vonnegut Jr., in his novel Breakfast of Champions, had this to say of the change from Armistice Day to Veterans Day:
I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.
What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance. And all music is.
Here in Petaluma, Veterans Day heralds two things: The Petaluma Veterans Day Parade and the arrival of the rainy season. And as is often the case this time of year, I braved the rain to get a few pictures of the festivities.
On a literary tip, a handful of H. P. Lovecraft’s protagonists were veterans of the Great War, including Herbert West (“Herbert West–Reanimator”), Karl Heinrich (“The Temple”), the unnamed narrator of “Dagon,” and Randolph Carter (“The Statement of Randolph Carter,” “The Silver Key,” “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” etc.). Cosmic Horror and The War to End All Wars–Recommended reading for 11/11/11. And you can read those stories, and more, for free at this link.
And speaking of HPL: Tomorrow, Saturday, November 12, between noon and 4 PM, I’ll be signing copies of The Book of Cthulhu at The Comic Book Box in Rohnert Park (189 Southwest Blvd, Rohnert Park, CA 94928). Come on by and say hello!