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Day: November 11, 2016

November 11, 2016: Leonard Cohen and Armistice Day

It seems fitting, somehow, to include this video on this of all days.

At the same time some of us are mourning the losses on this year’s Election Day, we can also remember that this was the end of the “War to End All Wars” that wasn’t. I

Today news broke that we lost another in a growing cadre of musicians and poets, Leonard Cohen, on November 7th. Best known for his song, “Hallelujah” (thanks largely to its inclusion in the movie Shrek), Wikipedia says of Cohen:

Leonard Norman Cohen, CC GOQ (21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016)[1] was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships.[3] Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.

Armistice Day (co-opted in 1954) remembered the event at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 as the moment when the Allies defeated Germany during World War I.

Wikipedia says of the first Armistice:

The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was an armistice during the First World War between the Allies and Germany – also known as the Armistice of Compiègne after the location in which it was signed – and the agreement that ended the fighting on the Western Front. It went into effect at 11 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 (“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”), and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender. The Germans were responding to the policies proposed by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points of January 1918. The actual terms, largely written by French Marshal and Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies Ferdinand Foch, included the cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of German troops to behind their own borders, the preservation of infrastructure, the exchange of prisoners, a promise of reparations, the disposition of German warships and submarines, and conditions for prolonging or terminating the armistice. Although the armistice ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles.

In this year, 2016, the year the music died, we are on the brink of many changes. We have forgotten so much of our history, but Cohen, born the same year as my mother,  was old enough to bear witness to the ugliness of the second War to End All Wars.

I will listen to his words and remember.

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