Friday, November 11, 2005

Armistice Day

Alane's post about Remembrance Day reminded me of my beloved grandfater, Joe Duffy. He was 25 years old when World War I began. He was living in Buffalo, New York, but when the war started, he crossed the border into Canada and joined the Canadian Army, fighting for King and Crown. This is very strange, because he was a devout Roman Catholic, and just as devout an Irishman. This was right before the Easter Uprising, and Irish Catholics didn't have a lot of fealty to King and Crown. Family lore says Joe joined the army not so much because he was PO'd at the Kaiser as that he was PO'd at his wife. Whatever.

There are two songs about World War I that I particularly love. The first is Eric Bogle's "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda," about the disastrous attack by Australian soldiers on the Turkish stronghold at Gallipoli. The second is by John McCutcheon, "Christmas in the Trenches," about the informal Christmas truce of 1914.

I still like the old US name for this holiday, Armistice Day. That's how Joe Duffy always referred to it. He was in trenches on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, and the armistice meant he was free to come home, marry his second wife (my grandmother), and get on with his life. He never spoke of the war.

I promise my next post will have something to do with libraries. I do have a story to tell, but I need a bit more time to digest it.

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