The eleventh hour of the eleventh day is almost here. It is time to remember, ” lest we forget”, the heroes dead or alive who did what they believed was right. We thank the Veterans this Remembrance Day.
When you watch the large LED television screens these days, it seems that everything has gone to hell in a handbasket. War here, there and everywhere. Europe is inundated with people fleeing the horrors of war. However, in the midst of human misery and pain, there are stories that give hope for humanity.
So today we remember. The go to poem for Canada is: In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, recited across the country, by young an old alike.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Sadly, he died before armistice.
Across the pond in England, I was introduced to the poems of Wilfred Owen at school. I think it was the first time that I had read such a powerful indictment on war, articulated so well by someone who was in the trenches. It countered the jingoistic attitudes of the time. He also died a few days before armistice.
We worry about our children in university, imagine if we had to worry about them in war. We should be truly grateful. Let us never waste our youth on war. Let the Gods of war send their own children.
Dulce et Decorum est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.-
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Who do you remember this Remembrance Day?