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Thought for the Day

Good morning, Happy New Year.

Hindsight is now 2020.

That is all.

Go get some caffeine and report to the couch for the day.

Musings

  • Only mad dogs and Norwegians go to the grocery store two days before Christmas.
  • I literally had six items on my shopping list, plus several gift cards.  I ended up with a half a truck-bed full of groceries.
    • Not sure why, but that old “Make sure your larder is full” feeling came over me when I was in the produce aisle.
  • At this time of year, communication is key.  For example, Irish Woman and I both bought large bunches of rather ripe bananas today.
    • Guess I’ll be making a batch of banana bread tomorrow, and introducing Boo to banana smoothies in the new food processor.
  • Irish Woman and Boo made some jam thumbprint cookies, along with their normal frosted sugar cookies.  I just finished up two dozen each of snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies.  If I’m feeling froggy tomorrow, it’ll be time to whip up some chocolate chip cookies and the aforementioned banana bread.
    • Food like this will eventually kill me, but I’ll die happy.
  • Irish Woman and Boo spent part of their afternoon going to the neighbors and delivering boxes of donuts from one of the local shops.  From what they told me, their deliveries were quite popular.
  • The weather has finally decided that it’s December, just in time for me to have time to go for walks.  Guess I’ll be that weird neighbor who gets out on the road rain or shine, because if I don’t get out of this house soon, I’m definitely going to be called the weird neighbor, just not for good reasons.

Musings

  • It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with ice pellets falling and customers calling and WAKING UP AT 5 AM TO GET ON A 6 AM CONFERENCE CALL ONLY TO BE TOLD THAT THEY INVITED ME BY MISTAKE!
    • I was invited to the follow-up meeting the following morning AND ONLY SAID 3 WORDS THE ENTIRE HOUR!
    • Some days I think I should have listened to my mother and gotten a job as the piano player in a whorehouse.
  • One problem with not being a Christmas person is that it falls to Irish Woman to decorate the house.  Most years, it’s Whoville and my sanity and electric bill both have issues.
    • This year, due to most of our Christmas junk still tucked away in stacks of identical cardboard boxes, it’s more minimalist.  By more minimalist, I mean that only about 50% of the surfaces in our home have something seasonal laid upon or tacked to them.
    • I have hope that my requests to not purchase more yuletide dreck will be granted.  It’s a forlorn hope, but a hope nonetheless. Maybe there’ll be a Christmas miracle or something.
  • It would appear that the best way to meet the new new neighbors is to just wait for them to bring Moonshine or Derby home after they’ve decided to do some unscheduled, unaccompanied exploring.
    • Another hit seems to be when the neighbors come out on a frosty morning to see why a strange man in bear-print pajama pants, an old tee shirt, and no shoes, is jogging a couple of yards behind a labrador retriever at 7 in the morning on a Sunday.

Musings

  • If you answer “I’m free most nights and weekends” when I ask when you can meet with a vendor, please don’t be surprised when I schedule a meeting with the vendor for 7 PM on Tuesday.
  • Note to Self – If we want to survive until the end of this year, the words “Brown lumps in gray sauce or gray lumps in brown sauce?” should not go through our lips when entering the kitchen and smelling dinner.
  • I took my semi-annual look at my retirement account, and if things keep going well for the stock market, adjusting for inflation, I should be able to retire sometime in my mid-80’s.
    • When I hit the milestones that allow me to retire from the current day job, I think I’m going to explore a new career as a reprobate.  That seems to pay well, at least for those reprobates with titles like ‘Senator’ and “Congressman’.
    • My 401K grew by about 25% this year due to the, IMHO, overheated stock market.  The feeling I have in my gut right now is the same as I have when I’m in the first car on the rollercoaster and we’re approaching the crest of the first big hill.
  • As the holidays approach at breakneck speed, we are all thinking of what to give our loved ones.  This year, be practical – give those you cherish ammunition, magazines, and booze.
    • I’m not saying things look bad when I look into my magic 8 ball, but I’m considering cutting a piece off of an old flag and putting it into my wallet, just in case.
  • Irish Woman and I had our annual “Please don’t buy me anything for Christmas”…. ‘discussion’ the other night.  I took a different tack this year by listing all of the things she and the kids have bought me for Christmas over the decades that met their fates at Goodwill or the bottom of a dumpster when we moved this year.  I’m hoping that this message convinced her that there is absolutely nothing I need nor want and that a good breakfast and some quiet music is all I ask for on Christmas morning.
    • It’s a forlorn hope, I know, but maybe one year I’ll wake up to a hug, a hot cup of coffee, and nothing more waiting for me.
  • Irish Woman tried to convince me to just buy her a bottle of the shampoo she loved back in the 80’s for Christmas, and I laughed in her face.  I don’t have much to live for, but I’m not going down like that.
    • Might as well watch her unwrap a set of steak knives and then go take a nap.

Musings

  • Note to self – Never trust a labrador retriever with cranberry nut bread on his breath.
    • Corollary – Always buy twice as much seasonal baking supplies as you think you will need.
  • Note to self – Never try to do business with the bank where you set a very hard to remember password before you’ve had at least one pot of coffee.
  • Note to self – When you find yourself failing the “Prove you’re not a robot by clicking on pictures” test for 10 minutes, it’s time for another pot of coffee.
  • Note to self – Shutting off the main water supply valve to the house was probably overkill when replacing the water filter on the “Oh my god, how much did they spend on that?” refrigerator, but it was a heck of a lot easier than trying to move said appliance and find the one right next to the fool thing.
  • Mathematical and Budgetary Grumblings:
    • The new filter is good for 300 gallons.
    • A gallon of water weighs about 10 pounds, or 160 ounces.
    • There are 20 8-ounce glasses of water in a gallon.
    • 20 glasses of water per gallon times 300 gallons equals 6000 glasses of cold, refreshing, filtered water for your son and wife who can no longer drink water straight from the tap for some reason.
    • At $33 per filter, that comes to about half a cent of additional cost per glass of water.
      • That, of course, assumes that my time to purchase and replace filters is worth nothing.
    • If I had asked to spend half a penny every time I needed to wet my whistle as a child, I would have been smacked upside the head until I got my mind right and went outside to drink from the hose.
  • Catching the fencing contractor relieving himself in the neighbor’s tree line makes for some laughter on the job site after the Irish Woman admonishes him.
    • Having the neighbor catch said contractor in the tree line leads to DaddyBear baking some treats and a visit to the neighbor’s back porch.
  • Moonshine and Derby love the new fenced in back yard.  The other dogs in the neighborhood, who are smart enough to be allowed to go out into their own backyards to read the newspaper without triggering a canine Amber Alert, came over to investigate the new thing and new dogs.  A good time was had by all, and the new furry friends all went home after ‘marking’ the new fence several times.
    • Poor Moonshine then spent the better part of the the morning recycling bowl water to reclaim his fence.
  • You know, after 20 years as a couple, you’d think my wife would know the answer before asking “Honey, would you have a problem having bears close to our cabin?”.

Musings

  • Irish Woman was delighted this morning when I called her my angel.  The context was ‘angel of death’, but she takes what she can get.
  • It occurs to me that the large number of people who treat politics as a blood sport are about to find out what blood tastes like.
  • Folks who do shady stuff in the dead of the night need to remember that there are cameras everywhere and the Internet is forever.
  • There’s nothing like starting a new project that requires expert knowledge and years of experience at your shiny new job, but you’re still at the ‘My blocks won’t stay on top of each other when I throw my juice box at them!’ level of expertise.
  • I am learning to take non-verbal queues quite well.  For instance, when the dude in charge of the crew installing our new fence looked me in the eye, and said, “Thanks, but we’re good.  Don’t worry about lunch or coffee or anything like that.” I correctly understood that to mean “No, really, we just want to get this job done and get out of the cold.  Go away, please.”
  • The life of a mammal is hard around  here.  Why, just today, Moonshine had to decide whether to lay on the carpet in the living room and watch the guys work in the back yard on his new enclosed toilet, or to lay on the carpet in my office and watch me make money so I could buy his dog food.
  • DaddyBear’s “Summon Cold and Wet Weather Spell” – purchase the components for an outdoor fireplace, light exactly one fire in it, then watch the sleet roll in.
  • The yearly ‘disagreement’ over what to get each other for Christmas has begun.  Normally, I default to getting Irish Woman jewelry, and she buys me ammunition.  Unfortunately, the price of lead and copper is approaching the low end of jewels and silver, so I’ve ruled that out. 
    • I will point out that there have been no protestations from her that would preclude me from acquiring more ‘twinkle’, as she calls it, to adorn my beloved wife.

Giving Thanks

For those of us in the United States, today is Thanksgiving.  It’s our annual post-harvest festival where we gather to feast on turkey and all the trimmings, watch some TV, and just spend some time together.

Hopefully, we also take a few moments to reflect on the past year and give thanks for what we have.

Right now, even with everything going on in the world, my family has a lot to be thankful for.

I’m thankful that we are all healthy and whole in a year where that is not a given to too many people.

I’m thankful that both Irish Woman and I are employed and that our son does not have to go without in a year where that is not a given to too many people.

I’m thankful that I live in a country where we contest elections with words and legal filings, not with bullets and machetes.

I’m thankful that we’ve realized our goal of moving to a new home.

Finally, I’m grateful that I have this outlet and the many friends and family that it’s brought to me over the years.  Y’all are a bright spot in a dark world, and you’re much appreciated.

So, for all of you out there, thank you.

Musings

  • After filling half a freezer with various pieces of cow, I can now attest that Oreo-Cookie Cows, raised on Kentucky bluegrass, are mighty tasty.
  • When your wife comes home to a pan-seared, 2 inch thick boneless ribeye, homemade (sort of) macaroni and cheese, and a running dishwasher, yet is still run down and tired, you know that she had a bad day at work.
  • The new gun safe has arrived.  Luckily, the combination was not locked inside when it was delivered.  The instructions on how to open it with said combination, however, were.
  • Due to an increase in Covid-19 cases in the area, Boo’s private school leadership decided to do off-site instruction for the next couple of weeks.
    • I got “The Look” when I commented that there was a perfectly good public school right up the road that wasn’t letting our kid go to school just as well as the multi-thousand-dollar-a-year private school wasn’t letting our kid go to school.
    • Actually, I’m rather impressed.  Boo has video-conference classes starting at 8 every morning, has daily assignments that must be completed and uploaded to the school’s website on time, and has a rather heavy homework load.
    • I’m told that I am not allowed to fulfill the role of creepy, but wise, janitor for him, nor may I act out my vice-principal disciplinarian dreams while he matriculates in our kitchen.

Musings

  • Diamonds may be forever, but rubies put fire into Irish Woman’s eyes.
  • The restaurant manager at dinner last night spent almost as much time discussing the method for cooking my steak as I did eating it, and that was not an insignificant hunk of cow.
  • Putting most of my books onto bookshelves made the new house start to feel like home.
  • Today we picked up a used table-top PacMan console.  Boo was almost as excited to see it as he would have been to see a new Xbox.
    • It goes into the corner of the basement reserved for Irish Woman’s toys.  The jukebox, other video game, pinball machine, and air hockey table welcomed it with open arms.
  • Note to self:  When the instructions for the fire pit tell you to make a circle 49 inches across, they mean 49 inches across.  Not 48, not 50.  49.
    • Addendum – Having to unstack 36 concrete pavers so that you could adjust to an even 12 pavers per layer, instead of the 13 you put into the first two layers, is considered suboptimal performance and a failure of the in-process quality control system.
  • Scraps of kiln-dried cedar paneling are almost explosively flammable. Old pallet wood that’s been sitting on an outdoor shelf at BIGBOXHARDWARE for a couple of weeks, not so much.
  • Apparently, a field mouse and her family hitched a ride in the bed of my truck in the pallet of pavers from BIGBOXHARDWARE.  I informed Miss Mousie that she had to vacate the premises by the time I was done building the fire pit.  If she did not do so, I would be forced to introduce her to Crash, the Psychotic, and his fascination with ‘playing’ with things small and fuzzy.
  • Sitting next to the fire, enjoying the warmth and a few moments of sanity, was worth the rather rushed scramble to get the fire out and and everything put away when the cold front, with its gusts of wind and abrupt rainstorm, washed over us.

Thought for the Day

It did not seem an unknown warrior whose body came on the gun-carriage down Whitehall where we were waiting for him. He was known to us all. It was one of “our boys,” not warriors, as we called them in the days of darkness, lit by faith.

To some women, weeping a little in the crowd after an all-night vigil, he was their boy who went missing one day and was never found till now, though their souls went searching for him through dreadful places in the night.

To many men among those packed densely on each side of the empty street, wearing ribbons and badges on civil clothes, he was a familiar figure—one of their comrades, the one they liked best, perhaps, in the old crowd, who went into the fields of death and stayed there with the great companionship.

It was the steel helmet, the old “tin hat,” lying there on the crimson of the flag which revealed him instantly, not as a mythical warrior aloof from common humanity, a shadowy type of the national pride and martial glory, but as one of those fellows, dressed in the drab of khaki, stained by mud and grease, who went into the dirty ditches with this steel hat on his head and in his heart the unspoken things, which made him one of us in courage and in fear, with some kind of faith not clear, full of perplexities, often dim in the watchwords of those years of war.

So it seemed to me, at least, as I looked down Whitehall and listened to the music which told us that the unknown was coming down the road. The band was playing the old Dead March in “Saul” with heavy drumming, but as yet the roadway was clear where it led up to that altar of sacrifice as it looked, covered by two flags, hanging in long folds of scarlet and white.

About that altar cenotaph there were little groups of strange people, all waiting for the dead soldier. Why were they there?

There were great folk to greet the dust of a simple soldier. There was the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London and other clergy in gowns and hoods. What had they to do with the body of a soldier who had gone trudging through the mud and muck like one ant in a legion of ants, unknown to fame, not more heroic, perhaps, than all his pals about him, not missed much when he fell dead between the tangled wire and shell-holes?

There were great generals and admirals, Lord Haig himself, Commander-in-Chief of our armies in France, and Admiral Beatty, who held the seas; Lord French of Ypres, with Home of the First Army and Byng of the Third, and Air-Marshal Trenchard, who commanded all the birds that flew above the lines on the mornings of enormous battles.

These were the high powers, infinitely remote, perhaps, in the imagination of the man whose dust was now being brought toward them. It was their brains that had directed his movements down the long roads which galled his feet, over ground churned up by gun-fire, up duckboards from which he slipped under his heavy pack if he were a foot-slogger, and whatever his class as a soldier, ordained at last the end of his journey, which finished in a grave marked by a metal disk—”unknown.”

In life, he had looked upon these generals as terrifying in their power “for the likes of him.” Sometimes, perhaps, he had saluted them as they rode past. Now they stood in Whitehall to salute him, to keep silence in his presence, to render him homage more wonderful, with deeper reverence, than any general of them all has had.

There were princes there about the cenotaph, not only of England but of the Indian Empire. These Indian rajahs, that old white-bearded, white-turbaned man with the face of an Eastern prophet—was it possible that they, too, were out to pay homage to an unknown British soldier?

There was something of the light of Flanders in Whitehall. The tattered ruins of Cloth Hall at Ypres used to shine white in a mist, suffused a little by wan sunlight, white as the walls and turrets of the War Office in this mist of London. The tower of Big Ben was dim through the mist like the tower of Albert Church until it fell into a heap under the fury of gun-fire.

Presently the sun shone brighter so that the picture of Whitehall was etched with deeper lines. On all the buildings flags were flying at halfmast. The people who kept moving about the cenotaph were there for mourning, not for mere pageantry. The Grenadier officers, who walked about with drawn swords, wore crape on their arms.

Presently they passed the word along, “Reverse arms,” and all along the line of route soldiers turned over their rifles and bent their heads over the butts. It was when the music of the Dead March came louder up the street.

A number of black figures stood in a separate group apart from the admirals and generals, “people of importance, to whom the eyes of the crowd turned while men and women tiptoed to get a glimpse of them.” Men foremost in the Government of the British Empire stood in that group:

The Prime Minister and Ministers and ex-Ministers of England were there—Asquith, Lord Curzon, and other statesmen who in those years of conflict were responsible for all the mighty effort of the nation, who stirred up its passion and emotions, who organized its labor and service, who won that victory and this peace. I thought the people about me stared at them as though conscious of the task that is theirs, now that peace is the test of victory.

But it was one figure who stood alone as the symbol of the nation in this tribute to the spirit of our dead. As Big Ben struck three-quarters after ten the King advanced toward the cenotaph, followed by the Prince of Wales, the Prince’s two brothers, and the Duke of Connaught. And while the others stood in line looking toward the top of Whitehall the King was a few paces ahead of them alone, waiting motionless for the body of the unknown warrior who had died in his service.

It was very silent in Whitehall. Before the ordered silence the dense lines of people had kept their places without movement and only spoke little in their long time of waiting, and then, as they caught their first glimpse of the gun-carriage, were utterly quiet, all heads bared and bent.

Their emotion was as though a little cold breeze was passing. One seemed to feel the spirit of the crowd. Above all this mass of plain people something touched one with a sharp, yet softening thought.

The massed bands passed with their noble music and their drums thumping at the hearts of men and women. Guards with their reversed arms passed and then the gun-carriage with its team of horses halted in front of the cenotaph where the King stood, and every hand was raised to salute the soldier who died that we might live, chosen by fate for this honor which is in remembrance of that great army of comrades who went out with him to No Man’s Land.

The King laid a wreath on this coffin and then stepped back again. Crowded behind the gun-carriage in one long vista was an immense column of men of all branches of the navy and army moving up slowly before coming to a halt, and behind again other men in civilian clothes and everywhere among them and above them flowers in the form of wreaths and crosses.

Then all was still, and the picture was complete, framing in that coffin where the steel hat and the King’s sword lay upon the flag which draped it. The soul of the nation at its best, purified at this moment by this emotion, was there in silence about the dust of that unknown.

Guns were being fired somewhere in the distance. They were not loud, but like the distant thumping of guns on a misty day in Flanders when there was “nothing to report,” though on such a day, perhaps, this man had died.

Presently there was a far-off wailing like the cry of a banshee. It was a siren giving the warning of silence in some place by the river.

The deep notes of Big Ben struck eleven and then the King turned quickly to a lever behind him, touched it, and let fall the great flags which had draped the altar. The cenotaph stood revealed, utterly austere except for three standards with their gilt wreaths.

It was a time of silence. What thoughts were in the minds of all the people only God knows, as they stood there for those two minutes which were very long.

There was dead stillness in Whitehall, only broken here and there by the coughing of a man or woman, quickly hushed.

The unknown warrior! Was it young Jack, perhaps, who had never been found? Was it one of those fellows in the battalion that moved up through Ypres before the height of the battle in the bogs?

Men were smoking this side of Ypres. One could see the glow of their cigarette ends as they were halted around the old mill-house at Vlamertinghe. It rained after that, beating sharply on tin hats, pouring in spouts down the waterproof capes. They went out through Menin Gate….

Fellows dropped into the shell-holes full of water. They had their packs on, all their fighting-kit. Some of them lay there in pits where the water was reddish.

There were a lot of unknown warriors in the bogs by Glencorse Wood and Inverness Copse. They lay by upturned tanks and sank in slime. Queer how fellows used to drop and never give a sound, so that their pals passed on without knowing.

In all sorts of places the unknown warrior lay down and was not quickly found. In Bourlon Wood they were lying after the battle among the riven trees. On the fields of the Somme they lay in churned-up earth, in High Wood and Delville Wood, and this side of Loupart Wood. It was queer one day how the sun shone on Loupart Wood, which was red with autumn tints. Old Boche was there then, and the wood seemed to have a thousand eyes staring at our lines newly dug. An airplane came through the fleecy sky, apparently careless of the black shrapnel bursting about it. Wonderful chaps, those airmen.

For the man afoot it wasn’t good to stumble in that ground. Barbed wire tore one’s hands damnably. There was a boy lying in a tangle of barbed wire. He looked as though he were asleep, but he was dead all right. An airplane passed overhead with a loud humming song.

What is this long silence, all this crowd in London streets two years after the armistice peace? Yes, those were old dreams that have passed, old ghosts passing down Whitehall among the living.

The silence ended. Some word rang out, bugles were blowing, they were sounding the “Last Post” to the unknown warrior of the Great War in which many men died without record or renown. Farther than Whitehall sounded the “Last Post” to the dead. Did the whole army of the dead hear that call to them from the living?

In the crowd below me women were weeping quietly. It was the cry from their hearts that was heard farthest, perhaps. The men’s faces were hard, like masks, hiding all they thought and felt.

The King stepped forward again and took a wreath from Lord Haig and laid it at the base of the cenotaph. It was the first of a world of flowers, brought as the tribute of loving hearts to this altar of the dead. Admirals and generals and statesmen came with wreaths and battalions of police followed, bearing great trophies of flowers on behalf of the fighting men and all their comrades.

And presently, when the gun-carriage passed on toward the Abbey, with the King following behind it on foot with his sons and soldiers, there was a moving tide of men and women, advancing ceaselessly with floral tributes. They waited until the escort of the coffin had passed, blue-jackets and marines, air force and infantry, and then took their turn to file past the cenotaph and lay their flowers upon the bed of lilies and chrysanthemums, which rose above the base.

As the columns passed they turned eyes left or eyes right to that tall symbol of death if they had eyes to see. But there were blind men there who saw only by the light of the spirit, and saluted when their guides touched them and said, “Now.”

It is two years after the “cease fire” on the front, but in the crowds of Whitehall there were men in hospital blue, who are still casualties, not too well remembered by those in health. Two of them were legless men, but they rode on wheels and with a fine gesture gave salute as they passed the memorial of those who fought with them and suffered less, perhaps, than they now do.

Memories of old days of the war, when all the nations were mobilized for service, came back through Whitehall with figures which belong more to yesterday. In many countries the agony of peace is worse than that of war, and even in our own dominions there is not peace, but strife between class and class and between one people and another.

For a time at least, among some of us, spiritual faith has given place to jaded cynicism, but in Whitehall all day long around the cenotaph spirituality revived again, and the emotion of multitudes was stirred by remembrance so deeply, so poignantly, that the greatest pessimist must see new hope. Surely some such faith as that, some such confession of failure which may yet be turned into victory, stirred in the hearts of those crowds who, when the soldiers and sailors had passed and all the pageant of this funeral to the unknown comrade, came from many little homes to pass in ceaseless tide before the coffin in the dim light of the Abbey.

This tide of people swirled about Westminster, through Whitehall, along Charing Cross Road, not in a disorderly torrent, but as a wonderful living channel. Every man and woman and child took his place in the column and moved slowly with its movement until access could be gained to that shrine where the unknown warrior now lies among the great heroes of the nation.

At the door leading to Parliament Square Bishop Ryle,…canons and choir, met the body. It was carried shoulder high by eight tall guardsmen and on the war-worn Union Jack that covered it lay a shrapnel helmet, a crusader’s sword, and a wreath of laurel.

Through the transept lined with the statues of statesmen and past the high altar the unknown warrior was borne and then through the choir into the nave where already many famous fighting men sleep.

Just within the west door a great purple square, bordered with white, marked the site of the grave. It is in the pathway of kings, for not a monarch can ever again go up to the altar to be crowned but he must step over the resting-place of the man who died that his kingdom might endure.

Four ladies sat apart and rose to greet this great unknown—Queen Mary and Queen Alexandra of England, Queen Maud of Denmark and Queen Victoria of Spain, and behind them were grouped Princess Mary and other women of royal blood.

Waiting, too, near his grave were men of the warrior’s own kind. He passed through the ranks of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and civilians in mufti. Strangely mixed, captains stood next to seamen, colonels by enlisted men, for all wore the Victoria Cross, and that earned them the right to attend.

The mournful strains of the Croft-Purcell setting of the funeral sentences were chanted unaccompanied as the procession passed through the Abbey. And as the grave was reached, the King, as chief mourner, stepped to its head. Behind him stood the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Connaught, and other members of the royal family, and ranked in the rear were Lloyd George and Asquith, the two war Premiers, and the members of their Cabinets; three or four Princes from India, and a score or more leaders of British life.

The pallbearers, chiefs of the army and navy—Haig, French, Beatty, and Jackson among them—took their stand on either side of the coffin and the service began.

It was as simple as in any village church in the land. The twenty-third Psalm, “The Lord is My Shepherd,” was sung to the familiar chant, and then came the account read by the Dean from Revelation, of the “Great multitude which no man could number out of every nation and of all tribes and all peoples and tongues standing before the Throne.”

As the coffin was lowered into the grave, “Lead, Kindly Light” was sung, and then came the committal prayer as the Dean spoke solemnly the words: “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” The King as chief mourner stepped forward and from a silver bowl sprinkled the coffin with soil brought from France. A few more prayers, “Abide with Me” and Kipling’s “Recessional” concluded the service.

And as the words of blessing died away, from far up among the pillared arches came a whisper of sound. It grew and grew and it seemed that regiments and then divisions and armies of men were on the march.

The whole cathedral was filled with the murmur of their footfalls until they passed and the sound grew faint in the distance.

It was a roll of drums and seemed to symbolize that host of glorious dead which has left one unknown warrior forever on guard at the entrance to England’s old Abbey.

— Sir Philip Gibbs, “The Unknown Soldier Honored By England“, November 11, 1920

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