Monday 11th November is classed as Remembrance – or Armistice – Day. We mark the occasion with a traditional silence at 11am and by wearing a poppy. Personally I am privileged to normally take part in two Remembrance Day parades locally each year as a member of a Salvation Army band, proudly leading the lines of people to the cenotaph for the laying of wreaths.
This year was different, though. LincsGeek and I experienced Remembrance Day whilst on holiday in New York. It is still marked on both the Sunday and the actual day, but is not the same as we are used to. On Remembrance Sunday we headed to downtown Manhattan – to the financial district – to visit the 9/11 Memorial. We started by having breakfast in a local cafe we’d call it a greasy spoon back home) where the walls were covered in photographs of that terrible day when the building was used as an aid centre and as a base for responders. Once inside the memorial, which consists of two large water fountains on the footplate of the two collapsed buildings, there was opportunity for quiet reflection, with the sound of the water flowing down into the building foundations and a small band of pipers in the background. It is quite some memorial; huge, loud with water crashing down, and poignant with all the carved names and yellow roses.
In the information centre to the edge of the plaza stands a rather magnificent Chopper designed by Paul Junior Designs. I have seen the Orange County choppers episodes when that bike was designed and built, and then when it was recovered and repaired after the floods in NYC a couple of years ago. As a biker, and appreciating this kind of design, I found the bike not only fantastic to look at with all it’s nods to the twin towers and the new buildings, but also a rather excellent act of remembrance, something physical to look at.
Finally, Monday itself was Veterans Day and there was a rather massive parade of veterans and active military personnel down 6th “Avenue of the Americas”. The city was flooded with men and women in uniforms and others in supportive hoodies. The flags were out in force and there was military music. It was quite something. We didn’t stand and watch for long as it was rammed with people and I feel even smaller than I already am when it’s like that, but it was awesome to see. Many of the bars and restaurants in the city were advertising free this and that for veterans and serving military personnel on the day. The television was covered in Veterans Day programming. Oh and it was great to see a good number of people donning poppies too. We don’t do Armistice Day quite like that back home!
I don’t know how you marked Remembrance Day this year, or how much value you personally place on spending a couple of minutes in silence remembering the fallen in the (far too) many conflicts that have involved our countries. For me this year it was very interesting to see it inside another culture that is somehow so near yet so far from our own.