This year, the second Friday in November has the most interesting time/date signature of the century. About an hour before noon, for one second only, it will be 11:11:11,11/11/11.
It happened in the year 1911, and will again in the year 2111.
There’s something fascinating about all those “1”s. There are lots of other “repeating number” dates – December 2012 will give us 12:12:12,12/12/12. But that’s not nearly as interesting as this one, with the single digit, “1”.
That instant will occur 24 times around the world (just like New Year’s Day), in each local time zone. (So if you miss it on the West Coast, all you need do is hop over to Hawaii.)
Some say you get another chance that evening. This is simply not true. The nighttime signature would be “23:11:11,11/11/11”, or worse: “11:11:11 pm,11/11/11”, both of which break the simple symmetry of the real signature.
November 11th marks the anniversary of Armistice Day. On that day in 1918, World War I ended. A truce was signed with Germany, to go into effect at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”. (“Armistice” means “truce”; Germany didn’t officially surrender, but the terms of the truce were so punitive upon Germany that they may well have set the groundwork for World War II.)
The day was renamed “Veterans Day” in the U.S. after World War II. In Britain, it’s called “Remembrance Day”, also known as “Poppy Day”.
It has been a long tradition to observe 2 minutes of silence every November 11, at 11 o’clock.
Poppies have long been a symbol of veterans day. It began after WW I, with a poem by John McCrae: In Flanders Fields.
In England, there’s a guy called “Poppy Man”, who goes around supporting the Royal British Legion, an organization that serves British ex-servicemen.
That website hasn’t been updated since 2007, but the work goes on: Poppy Appeal 2011.