A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Friday, November 12, 2010


As most readers of this blog likely knew, Thursday (Nov. 11) was Veterans Day in the United States.  It was also Remembrance Day in Canada, the UK, Australia, South Africa and other Commonwealth countries; and still known as Armistice Day in France, Belgium and New Zealand.  I wasn't able to attend the ceremony at Camp Eggers due to another ceremony -- the graduation of our latest class of Afghan Public Affairs Officers and NCOs (story to follow) -- but still enjoyed experiencing the commemoration of such a day while here.

Vets Day 2010: Public Affairs Course 5-10 graduation.

Ironically for Afghanistan, where the cultivation of them is at the heart of many of the country's problems, the poppy is the widely recognized symbol of this holiday.  Canadian officers here began wearing their poppies on the last weekend in October, and wore them until the 11th, in accordance with tradition.  More on the day below:

Reason for Remembrance Day (Canada)

Remembrance Day commemorates those who died in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. It is held every November 11 throughout the British Commonwealth, beginning in 1919. Originally called Armistice Day, it commemorated the end of the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m.: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

From 1923 to 1931, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. Thanksgiving was also celebrated on this day. In 1931, M.P. Allan Neill introduced a bill to hold Armistice Day on a fixed day - November 11. During the bill's introduction, it was decided the word Remembrance would be used instead of Armistice. The bill passed and Remembrance Day was conducted on November 11, 1931. Thanksgiving Day was moved to October 12 that year.

In many other countries, people gather on November 11 to honour the courage and devotion of brave men and women who made the supreme sacrifice of dying for their country. It marks the observance of a day to remember and honour those who died, as well as to give thanks for the sacrifices of those who came back from serving their country. 

The poppy's significance to Remembrance Day is a result of Canadian military physician John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields." The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed of trench warfare.

National Independence Day

Narodowe Święto Niepodległości is a public holiday in Poland celebrated every year on 11 November to commemorate the anniversary of Poland's assumption of independent statehood in 1918 after 123 years of partitions by Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia. The foundation of the Second Polish Republic is considered a key event by many Poles.

Veterans’ Day

Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said:

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

On June 1, 1954, the United States replaced Armistice with Veterans in order to recognize all veterans, and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

Even the chow hall goes all out for Nov. 11.

Unfortunately, you don't have to look far to find places where there is too much bloodshed today.

The brief story below is from a reporter with 3/5...Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, which has been suffering heavy losses from the day they took the reins from the Brits in Sangin.  A notorious crossroads and district capital of Helmand province, Sangin had already acquired a brutal reputation -- and is proving itself deserving of that notoriety.

"The tactics keep changing because they're smart and they watch us," said Esrey. "They don't have TV here. We're their TV."

Please keep the warriors of 3/5, and all of those in harm's way, in your thoughts and prayers as they face the deadly danger they face each day.  And here's wishing a belated happy Veterans Day, solemn Remembrance Day, and joyeux Armistice Day to all of the veterans out there.

Camp Eggers, Kabul: November 11, 2010.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! We didn't expect a reply for the cup of Joe but yours brought tears to my eyes! And was honored that you left your name and blog! I know no service men at this time though my dad was in the Army and my brother in the Navy. YOU are most welcome and wish we could have done more! Was way cool to be able to hear from a real "Joe"! A Marine even!! We are so proud of you all who give yourselves and lives for freedom! No need to thank us we thank YOU!!! :) Wish you and all of you over there the very best holiday season that you may have. And P.S. I hope when you come back you write! Whether it be a book, paper, whatever. You have a true gift! Teresa (mom) Kyle (16 yr old hellyun) Jimmy (dog), Kajira (dog) and Squeek (dog)hehe

November 14, 2010 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger FrenchFried said...

Dear AfghaniDan, thank you for this moving post. Yes, "Lest we forget" the Fallen heroes :
"They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them." (Ode of Remembrance, Laurence Binyon)
A tous les soldats de France tombés pour le Drapeau.
To the 3/5 Marines fighting in Hell-mand, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong.

November 15, 2010 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger yomistast said...

Always great stuff Afghanicuz.

November 20, 2010 at 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Slappy's Fields said...

Very poignant remembrances - bravo zulu, as always. And believe it or not, I'm very familiar with "Flander's Fields" because none other than Big Head Todd & The Monsters recorded a song based on that very poem (and lyrically quite true to it) on their 1989 album "Another Mayberry". So once again, our military history/warfighting/jamband worlds collide ...

In Flander's Fields where the poppies blow
Between the crosses row by row.
To mark our places and in the sky
The larks go bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amongst the guns below

From Flander's Fields
We will come running home.
From Flander's Fields.
We will rise up
We will rise up.
We were together short days ago
Breathe the air saw sunset glo
Loved and were loved but now we lie
In Flander's Fields I hear her cry.

Take up your quarrel with the foe
To you from flailing hands we throw
The torch be yours so hold it high
We will not sleep though we lie
We will not sleep though we lie.

November 21, 2010 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Teresa & family, I'm sorry it took me so long...but THANK YOU for the very kind words! I've got a multi-service family too: Older brother was Navy and young bro is Army now. Please, keep reading...and I hope to keep writing about all this.
Best, AD

November 28, 2010 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

FF, that was a very moving poem you contributed as well. Merci boucoup!
YoMistaST, you too kind.
Slappy, great call...I didn't know about that tune at all, and from a Boulder band no less. Request a burn? Many taaaaanks...

November 28, 2010 at 2:16 PM  

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