Thank you for your service, and other things

It must be a really busy day in southern Germany. They barely had time to get over November 9, and all of a sudden children are parading with lanterns for St. Martin’s Day while the grownups, at elften elften elf Uhr elf, celebrate Fasching. At least maybe Armistice Day, since it commemorates their 1918 surrender at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, isn’t too much of a distraction.

You have to think that the Allies deliberately picked that date and time, for some symbolic reason that escapes me – but all those ones do capture the imagination. In China it’s Singles Day, where single people either celebrate or go on blind dates to try to get married. (It’s a clever holiday, except for the fact that there are four ones, or two elevens, but not really two single ones.)

And then there’s Pepero. It’s a South Korean stick-shaped cookie. Four of them look like 11/11. So it follows, right, that they’d exchange these cookies and give romantic gifts today, on Pepero Day. Maybe even at 11 am.

I wonder what they’ll all come up with for 11/11/11?

We’re more solemn about the day here. Last summer Chip and I were on a boat trip with a guy in a Fort Bliss sweatshirt and short hair. When he found out along the way that Chip had been in Vietnam he said, sincerely, “Thank you for your service.”

I’d been sort of dozing on the boat in the sun, and I couldn’t really believe I’d heard right. We’d been against the war from the beginning. Chip’s “service” was not something I’d thank anyone for.

But he went.

And so at least I can thank him now for not cutting off a toe, or moving to Canada. Chip, thank you for your service.

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