Yesterday morning, Veteran's Day, I was running hills in my home town up around the elementary school which sits atop the second best hill in town and also has several sets of stairs to run up and down on. I attended school there a long time ago.
As I was cutting across the footpath which goes around behind the school from Oak Street to Highland Avenue, which street is the best hill in town, the PA system blared out quite audibly that we would now have a moment of silence to honor our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms. I pulled up, faced the building where I imagined there would be a flag inside somewhere, took off my hat and stood at attention, reflecting upon the veterans I have known, from my brother who served with the Marines in Beirut to a running friend who was lost in Afghanistan to other current vets of the several wars of the past 65 years, and to all the WWII and WWI vets who have passed.
As the seconds passed and I stood in respectful stillness, I got to wondering how long a moment really was. After a minute passed without further issuance from the playground speaker, I put my hat back on, turned and resumed my run.
As I ran off, I heard the announcer come on the loud public address system to say that that concluded the moment of silence and now the pledge of allegiance would be recited in every classroom. When I got home and looked up "moment" I discovered that although a moment currently encompasses a brief, non-specific passage of time it actually was a specific measurement of time in the middle ages consisting of 90 seconds, or 40 strokes every hour.