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She had come from a long line of military officers and had lived a childhood steeped in military traditions. Of all the traditions she could remember, none were more profound and solemn than November 11th.
Every November 11th as a child her father would tell her the significance of that special day. He would tell her how decades earlier a great war was fought between many powerful nations, the war to end all wars the people of the day had naively called it, and how on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month an armistice was enacted to end the war.
Different countries had different names for the day. Canadians, Britons and Australians used to call it Remembrance Day, and the French used to call it Armistice Day, for example. Americans called it Veteran's Day. But no matter what it was called, the meaning was the same…to remember the service and sacrifices of members of the military, because to remember them was to honor them. Originally it was just to remember the soldiers of that first Great War, but later came to remember and honor all soldiers from all conflicts, including the RDF.
And honor them was the very least we could do for them.
Every year until she went away to the academy, at 1100 hours Lisa and her father would observe two minutes of silence in honor of the soldiers of the past and the present.
Now Admiral Lisa Hayes stood on a stage on the parade grounds of the Fokker Air Base and watched the assembled members of the Robotech Expeditionary Force as they stood at attention in the near frosty morning air. It was November 11, 2022, and in a short month they would be leaving to find the Robotech Masters, as was the plan of Admiral Gloval.
There were no banners, no fanfare…just an air of somberness. The rows and rows of REF personnel stood in silence waiting for her address, and they reminded her of a poem that her father had told her once about rows of crosses and poppies. And while she normally hated giving speeches, she didn't mind giving this one at all. It was her honor and her privilege. She had wanted to have this ceremony near the burial mound of the SDF-1, but it just wasn't practical. She was very disappointed, and it was Rick who reminded her that where the ceremony was held was completely irrelevant. The spirit of the day was what was important, not the location.
As the time approached for her to move to the front of the stage, she regarded the four Excalibur Destroids at the end of the massive field. They stood there, a pair on each side of the field facing each other, their cannons pointed upward, ready for their part in the ceremony.
She glanced down to her watch. 1057 hours. She stepped forward to the microphone that had been set up. November 11th had taken on an even more special meaning for her since the destruction of the SDFs 1 and 2, and with them the deaths of her closest friends…her family. Henry Gloval, Claudia, Vanessa, Kim and Sammie. They deserved to be remembered…they deserved to be honored. More than that, today could quite possibly be her last November 11th on Earth.
"Ladies and gentlemen. We are gathered here on this chilly November morning to honor the men and women of various times and uniforms, and the sacrifices that they have made in the service of others. When some of the nations of the world first set aside this day as a day of honor and remembrance, it was meant to honor and remember the soldiers of one conflict. Over time it has come to mean more…much more." She paused for a moment and scanned the assembled soldiers before her, and for the first time really took note of how young they all were. She forced back the surge of emotion that rose from her heart and continued. "Over time, it became a day for those nations to remember soldiers from other conflicts and other duties. Now, we remember the work and the sacrifice of not only those soldiers of long ago, but the soldiers of our recent past and our recent conflicts. The Robotech Defense Force has seen more than its share of sacrifice, and we would be remiss in our duty to forget them, just as we would be remiss in our duty to forget those brave soldiers of yesteryear."
Lisa looked up at the flags at the end of the grounds, flying at half-staff, and then looked just beyond it to see the clock on the tower of base chapel. 1059.
"We show our respect, our heartfelt appreciation with two minutes of silence."
Just as she finished, the clock chimed 1100 hours.
She bowed her head, closed her eyes and reflected on the family she lost, the friends she would see no more, and the military officers of decades gone by who paid so much. She opened her eyes exactly two minutes later and said into the microphone, "Never forget. We must never forget the sacrifices made on our behalf, no more than we would want others to forget the sacrifices we will soon make." She let her words echo through the grounds and then repeated, "Never forget."
She stepped back from the microphone, and with a precision born of years of practice she offered a salute to the young men and women in front of her…her soldiers. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Rick, Max, Miriya and the rest of the command staff of the REF step up beside her and salute as well. A moment later, in perfect unison, the young soldiers returned the gesture to their superior officers. The Excaliburs took their cue and in unison fired three massive volleys each upward into the blue November skies.
When the Excaliburs were finished, Lisa lowered her arm, turned and caught the eye of the man she loved so much, the man who made all the pain and suffering of the last number of years bearable. And as she took the arm that held out for her, she knew that next year on November 11 she would in all likelihood be remembering soldiers of the REF as well, and she couldn't help but let a tear fall down her cheek.
Rick covered her hand in his, gave it a loving squeeze and whispered, "Never forget."
She leaned her head against his shoulder, tightened her grip on his arm and whispered back, "No…we will never forget."
(+)The poem referenced is "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian Artillery field surgeon Major John McCrae, M.D. (1872-1918)