Tag Archives: Ernest Shackleton

Armistice Day 2012

Today is Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I in 1918.  Also known as Poppy Day and Remembrance Day in commonwealth countries.  WWI began with bravado and confidence—most people believed it would last only a few months.  Four long, bloody years later, the world had irrevocably changed.

This point was brought home to me over the summer.  I attended a special screening of the silent documentary South, featuring the footage shot by Frank Hurley on Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition with the ship Endurance.   The screening was accompanied by live music and narrated with excerpts from Shackleton’s journal, read by actor Paul McGann.  The expedition began the week war broke out in Europe, on August 8, 1914.  Shackleton and his men were isolated from the world and its news when the Endurance was trapped and destroyed by ice.  When Shackleton finally made it to a whaling station in South Georgia two years later, the first question he asked was, “When did the war in Europe end?”  He was told the war was still dragging on, with no end in sight.  Many of his men, after surviving the hardships of the Antarctic, returned home to fight in the trenches of France.

They ask me where I’ve been,
And what I’ve done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn’t I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands…
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name.

— Wilfred Gibson

Today is also Veterans Day in the United States.  To those who have served in the armed forces, we thank you for your service.


Troops recite the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony on an aircraft elevator on board the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, Nov. 6, 2012. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sponsored the ceremony during which 41 service members from 19 countries became U.S. citizens.

Photo credit for Becoming Citizens: US Department of Defense.   Special thanks to Shay for the World War I images.  The poem by Wilfred Gibson is “Back.”
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