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100 years ago: Armistice Day nears

10 November 2023

November 9th, 1923.

WE NEED not be accused of Puritanism if we record our opinion that the attractions offered by hotel managers to their guests on Saturday and Sunday next are an anachronistic and even repulsive way of celebrating Armistice Day. They will, of course, appeal to the vulgar rich, whom, like the poor, we have always with us. But even they may reflect that riotous merriment has no longer the excuse which might have been pleaded for it in 1918, the excuse of reaction from an almost intolerable strain. Five years ago we thought that a costly victory would be followed by a just peace and the settlement of Europe; we know now that our hopes were vain. Then we thought that our sacrifices were not futile; to-day it is almost our only hope that our dead may be unaware that the spirit of revenge, of hatred and of ambition has perpetuated the evils of war, without its heroism. Armistice Day is a day when around the Cenotaph and the grave of the Unknown Warrior, by the calvaries and memorials which everywhere commemorate the fallen, and at the altars where they and we once knelt, we may say — in the great words of Lincoln at Gettysburg: — “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,” and pledge ourselves anew to that task of reconciliation which one at least of the Allies seems determined to frustrate.

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