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Commemorate: from the Latin commemorāre—be mindful of

Social media are designed to help us remember. Each day I am automatically reminded of birthdays and anniversaries, and your own feed often announces these and so many other opportunities for both personal and community celebration, most of them annual events. Our language, in fact, is laced with words and phrases that reinforce the cyclic, repetitive nature of remembering again and again: remember, recollect, reminisce, commemorate. Next year in Agincourt the community will celebrate a couple biggies. Wish I could be there.


This medal may seem a bit grim when you realize it was struck to memorialize the German sinking of RMS Lusitania on the seventh of May, 1915.* Grim because it was struck by a German medalic artist, Karl Goetz, in a sarcastic, even celebratory way. Agincourt had reason to note this important historical event because one of its own had sailed on that fateful voyage and was thought to have been one of 1,198 passengers and crew who lost their lives, many of them Americans. There is a modest acknowledgment of the Lusitania’s sinking on The Commons, just across Agincourt Avenue from the old library entrance. I wonder how (or even if) the community will take note on 07 May 2015? We’ll have to wait until Fall for another more significant anniversary: the October 25th celebration of Founder’s Day.

Saturday, October 25th will witness the annual parade of bands and floats representing various schools, businesses, clubs and other civic organizations, all of them celebrating the founding of Agincourt. Many, of course, will fail to recognize that two years are involved: 1853, the year our original townsite was filed at the county courthouse then situated in Muskrat City; and 1857, the year Agincourt incorporated as a municipality. So take your pick: 167th anniversary or 158th? Neither of them ends with a zero, so no harm, no foul.

October 25th, 2015, is also likely to be remembered elsewhere, especially in a small village in northeastern France. On that day in 1415 the English and French fought the Battle of Agincourt, as I too often have reminded you, the definitive conflict in the Hundred Years War. Shakespeare wrote about it—Henry V—and film adaptations brought its themes of heroic sacrifice to the cinema. Here, too, there are two versions: Sir Lawrence Olivier and Kenneth Branaugh. Take you pick.

If you’ve done the math, you also realize this will be the 600th anniversary of that battle in Azincourt, France (yes, they spell it differently). Seems something the French might ignore—”Battle? What battle?”—with the same fervor that the Brits will celebrate it. Concerning a somewhat larger town in northwestern Iowa, I’ll have to ask Howard what plans are afoot.


*The sculptor got it wrong: Lusitania sank on May 7th, which has led some to believe the attack on the British liner was widely known before the fact. Life imitates art.


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