Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

It is Remembrance Day today. For many, I fear as the years go by, this day is increasingly becoming just another day off. More and more kids seem to be growing up not learning about its significance. I see more and more people on the streets this time of year who aren't wearing poppies. I worry that people are forgetting.

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the end of World War One. Over the decades, November 11th has evolved to pay tribute to those who fought not only in WWI, but also in WWII, the Korean War and the many peacekeeping actions and other wars right up to the present. Their sacrifices in long years past bought the freedom and relative peace that most of us enjoy today. Their continuing efforts today are giving others the hope for this same kind of peace. The least we can do is remember them and thank them.

Like any other significant event in our culture, the wars have acted as backdrops to or inspirations for great works of SF. Take some time to read short stories like John Brunner's "In the Season of the Dressing of the Wells" or Dave Whittier's "Coming Back to Kabul". For something strange, try Christopher Priest's "The Separation". For lighter fare, pick up Harry Turtledove's "Worldwar" series. Or, going deep again, far less rooted in the world we know but carrying many of the same shadows, read Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". For terrible foreshadowing, watch the Doctor Who series 3 episodes "Human Nature" and "Family of Blood". "The Empty Child" is another worthwhile episode of the Doctor, this one set against WWII during the Blitz. The Doctor's spinoff, "Torchwood", also did a powerful episode set during WWII: "Captain Jack Harkness".

But in addition to all the fiction, if you couldn't make it to a ceremony today, be sure to watch some of your local news coverage on Remembrance Day ceremonies in your area, or pick up a history book and learn about the wars, or better yet, talk to a veteran - listen to what they have to say, and when they're done, be sure to thank them.

Lest we forget.

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