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10 November 2009

Remembrance Day
They went with songs to the battle,
they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest We Forget.
It appears though, that we do forget sometimes:
They disembarked in 45
and no-one spoke and no-one smiled
There were to many spaces in the line.
Gathered at the cenotaph
all agreed with the hand on heart
to sheath the sacrificial knifes.
But now
she stands upon Southampton dock
with her handkerchief
and her summer frock clings
to her wet body in the rain.
In quiet desperation, knuckles
white upon the slippery reins
she bravely waves the boys goodbye again.
post by: dg at: 16:19 | 11 comments
I really like this, thanks.
posted by MonkeyButter 10 November | 18:39
From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Death of the Ball Turret Gunner, by Randall Jarrell

The grave that they dug him had flowers
Gathered from the hillsides in bright summer colors,
And the brown earth bleached white at the edge of his gravestone.
He's gone.

When the wars of our nation did beckon,
A man barely twenty did answer the call.
Proud of the trust that he placed in our nation,
He's gone,
But eternity knows him, and it knows what we've done.

And the rain fell like pearls on the leaves of the flowers
Leaving brown, muddy clay where the earth had been dry.
And deep in the trench he waited for hours,
As he held to his rifle and prayed not to die.

But the silence of night was shattered by fire
As guns and grenades blasted sharp through the air.
And one after another his comrades were slaughtered.
In morgue of marines, alone standing there.

He crouched ever lower, ever lower with fear.
"They can't let me die! they can't let me die here!
I'll cover myself with the mud and the earth.
I'll cover myself! I know I'm not brave!
The earth! the earth! the earth is my grave."

The grave that they dug him had flowers
Gathered from the hillsides in bright summer colors,
And the brown earth bleached white at the edge of his gravestone.
He's gone.

The Grave, by Don McLean
posted by Doohickie 10 November | 21:37
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.

— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)
posted by arse_hat 10 November | 23:56
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 our 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 disappointed shells that dropped 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 floundering 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.

(Wilfred Owen, 1918)
posted by Hugh Janus 11 November | 01:04
Wow, thanks for the additions! Remembrance Day is something that becomes more important to me the older I get (and, to a slightly lesser extent, ANZAC Day). I see a world rushing headlong into conflict at every opportunity and it brings a tear to my eye to realise that, indeed, we have forgotten the sacrifice made by so many of the best and brightest of every country. We have forgotten that there are no winners in war and that, in the end, everyone loses something.

The older I get and the more I learn about people, the sadder I feel on this day.

Lest We Forget, indeed.
posted by dg 11 November | 01:45
Poppies are still worn here in the week leading up to the 11th but it is no longer a holiday and I do think remembrance is waning.
posted by arse_hat 11 November | 01:57
Thanks for this thread.

Here in Poland, it's Święto Niepodłegości - Independence Day. The past is always at the forefront of daily life here, especially the suffering and sacrifice the country went through during World War II.
posted by mdonley 11 November | 02:16
I watch a lot of international soccer, and something I'm always impressed by is the eleventh-day-of-the-eleventh-month minutes of silence before English Premier League games. It's always a full minute, and it's always truly silent, and the camera seeks and finds men and women in the stands who are crying, even today, so long after. In my own country the pride of imagined victories has long eclipsed the pain of personal loss, and confused patriots have conflated honor for the fallen soldier into approval of war itself.

I think there actually are things worth fighting for; dying for these things is an outcome of the fighting, and there's the pity: there's nothing good about dying.

War Is Kind

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind,
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them.
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom--
A field where a thousand corpses lie.

Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.

Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind!

(Stephen Crane, 1899)
posted by Hugh Janus 11 November | 10:56
Here in Poland, it's Święto Niepodłegości - Independence Day.

If I remember correctly, Poland regained its nationhood at the end of World War I, but had to fight on until 1921 before the Russians accepted their frontier.
posted by Doohickie 11 November | 19:47
Lots of poppies worn here in BC. They also have, well not commercials exactly, but little films shown on TV at times you would normally see a commercial.
posted by deborah 11 November | 22:39
"and I do think remembrance is waning." It seems I was wrong. Record group out today and a lot of them with kids pulled out of school.
posted by arse_hat 12 November | 00:11
Bunny! OMG! || Dig this.