This is a more solemn email than is usual. I recognize that this email reflects my personal view, and if this email is not something that you appreciate then I invite you to disregard it and write your own email regarding something that makes you happy or grateful this week.
The 11th of November is commemorated in some parts of the world as Armistice Day, Remembrance Sunday, or Veterans Day. The year 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. I would like to take a moment to reflect on the subject of Armistice Day, and on the roles of Wikimedia -- especially Wikipedia -- in sharing knowledge of history and being a repository of our collective memory. "Armistice Day is commemorated... to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918." [1 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armistice_Day>] World War I was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, with a total of approximately 17 million civilian and military deaths. [2 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties>] I would like to share a story. John McCrae (photo here <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_McCrae_in_uniform_circa_1914.jpg>) was a medical doctor and Canadian soldier during World War I. He wrote a famous poem, “In Flanders Fields <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:In_Flanders_fields_and_other_poems,_handwritten.png>”. The poem refers to the red poppies that grew over the graves of soldiers who died in the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium. There are variants of the wording of the poem. I quote one of them below. In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high! If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields." Here are a few images: * Poppies in the sunset on Lake Geneva, Montreux, Switzerland <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Poppies_in_the_Sunset_on_Lake_Geneva.jpg> * Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Canadian_Tomb_of_the_Unknown_Soldier_with_poppies.jpg> * Remembrance Day 2010 in Ottawa, Canada <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Remembrance_Day_National_War_Memorial_Ottawa_2010.jpg> * Memorial of "In Flanders Fields" <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Inflandersfieldslestweforget01.JPG> In our contemporary world where there are many disputes about history, resources are limited, and sometimes it is difficult to be optimistic about human nature, I am especially grateful for Wikipedia's aspiration to be a place to share neutral, reliable, and verifiable information with an open license. Wikimedia has remarkable success at being a collaborative endeavor for the education and information of humanity. Wikimedia content is collaboratively developed by thousands of diverse individuals, many of whom are volunteers and never meet in person. Content that is shared on Wikimedia sites is viewed by millions of people around the world. Although we sometimes caution the public that Wikipedia is not a primary source, for many people Wikipedia seems to be a good starting point, and the references that we provide allow people to perform their own research regarding history and many other topics. Thank you to everyone who documents history on Wikimedia, and to the people who support this effort behind the scenes. We all benefit from your generosity to our common memory. By documenting and learning about our history, I hope that we improve our understanding of ourselves and our potential, and can make wise decisions about our future. I close with a poem by Catherine Munro <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:CatherineMunro>: THIS IS AN ENCYCLOPEDIA One gateway to the wide garden of knowledge, where lies The deep rock of our past, in which we must delve the well of our future, The clear water we must leave untainted for those who come after us, The fertile earth, in which truth may grow in bright places, tended by many hands, And the broad fall of sunshine, warming our first steps toward knowing how much we do not know. Ever onward, Pine ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine ) _______________________________________________ Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l New messages to: Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe>