A small red rosette-thing on the front of the shirt.
I had noticed something similar on the shirts of the teams meeting at Stamford Bridge that day;...the same little rose.
And I remembered that it wasn't a rose.
It was a poppy.
Today we here in the U.S. will do our usual half-assed little remembrance of the end of the Great War. The day just doesn't seem to mean much to us; we call it "Veteran's Day", denaturing even the very name of the occasion into a sort of generic WinCo-label title, as if showing by our contrariness our indifference to the symbolism of the day and what it meant.
When you look for the difference between the "two nations separated by a common language" you can't really look much further than here.
In Great Britain the sports teams wear these little flowers, public officials and policemen, ordinary citizens, for weeks leading up to the two minutes of silence that fall on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year. Bells will toll, soldiers and children march to the memorials and graves and lay their flowers down for the wind to riffle and carry off, silent messages to the dead men swallowed up by the unspeakable great dying.
Here we will wonder why the mail didn't come, and tsk with irritation that the bank and the passport office are closed.
I think I've said everything I need to say about the facile and meaningless "respect" we idly toss at uniforms without trying to understand what those uniforms mean. Instead let me quote the words of a man who believes in a hope and an eternity I do not:
"You all are thanking these men and women for doing things they wish they had never done.We never seem to learn, do we? That "there never was a good war, or a bad peace."
You are thanking them for seeing things they wish they had never seen.
You are blessing them with a hell they wish they had never been part of."
Let us hope that some day we will.