I know where my grandfather was, 96 years ago today.
It seems so strange to be able to say that, but it's true.
On November 11, 1918, at 11:11 a.m., James M. Quimby was in Paris. I know this because of the one story I ever heard him tell about World War I. It seems that in the celebration when that hour arrived, "'some little ma'mselle' snatched my cap." (The photo shows why she might have--he was a good-looking guy.)
"Oh, I got my cap back."
That was a day of joy and celebration, although I imagine the days before had been something altogether the opposite. Grampa served as a member of the Royal Engineers (why he was with a British unit I never knew). He may not have been in those horrible trenches, but I'm sure he saw his share of destruction.
This morning, at 11:11 a.m. EST, I stood outside, in warm sunshine, in the hills he loved so well. I heard the farm machinery and a circular saw. I heard birds. And I thought how silence must have felt after years of artillery and rifle-fire, in that moment before bells began to ring.
The British call this Remembrance Day, to remember a generation lost. This year, in particular, I'm calling it that, as well. It seems fitting, one hundred years on.
That was the "The War to End All Wars," but clearly it was not. This year, I also remember my uncle, James M. Quimby, Jr., who served this country in World War II, and I honor my father, Richard Malcom Quimby, who is still very much with us, at 88. They did their duty and returned home to raise families and live out their lives in peace. Thanks, also, to all those who continue to make the peace of this place possible.