Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Moment of Silence

Today is November the 11th. Everyday of my life until I left Canada to teach overseas, this day has been a sombre day of reading In Flanders Fields along with other sombre works and, at 11am, observing one minute of silence to think about those who have fallen.

The dangers of chemical warfare. . .

On April 23rd, a platoon officer from Moncton, Lieut. Denny, chose Vincent to run from trenches back to company headquarters, a duty he performed until May 1st. At least once daily he and a companion threaded their way through trenches, slipped over the top, and raced to deliver messages, "a very chancy business." One day a breathless scout ran up to Lieut. Denny and reported an impending gas attack. Intelligence had spotted canisters of chlorine, the deadly yellow-green poisonous gas which, when released, drifted over the terrain like ground fog. Denny ordered Vincent to rush word to brigade headquarters. When he reached the command post and advised the brigadier, "the poor fellow immediately began to shake and pull on his gas mask. He fumbled around trying to write out a general order warning troops of the attack, but the mask impaired his vision and slowed the process an agonizingly, indeed terrifyingly, long time." Similar instances of military ineptitude happened not infrequently "with spit and polish officers, especially some who had won stripes in the South African War. They lost their nerve in combat."

Remembrance Day links

In Korea it is most decidedly not a sombre day! One day, about 4 or 5 years ago, Lotte corporation decided to make November 11th (11/11) Peppero day (because pepperos look like ones) -- sheer marketing genius. Now every Nov. 11th millions of Koreans run around buying, giving, and consuming these sticks of cookie and chocolate.

In honour of my own past I think I will buy some other sort of candy than pepperos just like I try my best to avoid hallmark cards and paying for microsoft's software. I'm quite surprised really but I dearly miss buying poppies on the street corner from little old ladies, so I'm not going to replace that experience with buying pepperos at the local store!

Today also marks the second annual Kindergarten concert that I will attend. Just a moment ago my reverie was broken by the entrance into my classroom of a Korean kindy teacher and all the English speaking staff. We were told that there was a song that all of the teachers and students would have to sing and dance for on stage! She went throught the choreography once and promptly left -- leaving us all wondering how we can reproduce this dance after one practise session.
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