A Moment for the Dead

Today is Armistice Day and it occurs each year on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th hour. Armistice Day marks the end of the First World War where millions of lives were lost. Today as I walked through Cambridge City Centre something unique happened to mark this event.

 As I walked up to the square at the 11th hour, bodies in motion suddenly started to come to a halt. I had not made the connection immediately, and it took a few seconds. As I saw the other bodies come to a halt, I too lingered in the spot where I was then anchored and then my body finally came to a full stop. The people in the square stopped in multiple places, some were close to the official marking on the day that was located in the centre, others, like myself were on the fringes, on the outskirts. There was one member of the crowd, a man in his 40s who did not want to let this moment arrest his journey through the space, and he continued to walk through the crowds after everyone else had fallen still.

Why is it important to be still at times? This collective marking of time with our stillness struck me as important. For one moment, millions of persons bring their bodies to a halt, and calm their thoughts, and direct their thoughts to one place – to remember the dead.  For two minutes, 120 seconds, a fraction of time, they share in collective time. After the two minutes had come to an end, a shot was fired, signalling to us that the moment had ended, just as the strike of the clock at 11 had signalled its arrival. The people in the square dispersed and there was movement again.

 

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