Today marks the 36th anniversary of our marriage. Armistice Day. We woke that morning with Ellie eight months pregnant and I said, "It seems like a good day to get married"--or words to that effect. Very romantic. We had been together for three years already and had resisted the idea of marriage for a variety of reasons. But I had been thinking about tax benefits (VERY romantic!) and we were aware that regulations at the Catholic hospital would have prevented my assistance at the birth of our daughter-to-be. And it seemed like a nice day. We called our neighbors, to ask if they'd be our witnesses, and set off for an appearance before a judge at City Hall.
11/11, Armistice Day. The day that the truce was signed to mark the end of the horrors of World War I in Europe, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month--the exact time we chose to raise our glasses in a toast at the Biltmore Hotel, after the official civil ceremony in the judge's chambers. I fired off a telegram (those were the days!) to Ellie's father, a gregarious man who had got a lot of mileage out of boasting to his friends that he was about to be "an illegitimate grandfather." I wrote: "Illegitimate grandparenthood forestalled by downtown judge." (In the days of telegrams, you were charged by the word, remember? It paid to be pithy.) Anyway, he was furious.
The Eurpoean armistice, if you recall, along with the feeling of humiliation it imposed on the German people, led directly to the spirit of vengeful nationalism that one Adolf Hitler later exploited, with consequences even more disastrous than those of the previous war. I'm happy to report that our personal armistice has worked out a lot better than that. We have been fortunate in many ways--not least in our decision to spend our lives together, and the feeling that we share this morning is one of gratitude for so many blessings and for so much love.