Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

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 tired, outstripped Five-Nines 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 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.

This is a poem I often think of during Remembrance Day. I know many turn to "In Flanders Fields", which is also a great poem, but at all times of year (not just this one designated day), I think it's important and vital that we not only honor the memory of those who served our country but those who served any country. Those who lost their limbs, their loved ones and their lives.

My other issue with "In Flanders Fields" is the guilt trip. I honestly wonder if someone who died in a war would honestly want others to continue fighting for the same cause. Not all wars are great, noble or honest. So many are plagues upon the country they infest and bring not only violence but are acts of international corruption and power struggles.

I also think it's important not to glamourize war or to make it more heroic than it is horror. As a pacifist, one might think that I don't honour what men and women have done in the name of their country. That is quiet untrue. It is because of this sacrifice and the atrocities those who fight for a country become witness too or worse, apart of, that I am pacifist.

For many of us, war has never touched our soil. That is not true for all those that I know and I can only pretend to understand how the affects on those who have seen war in their backyard. But, because I have not seen it, I can only continue to be grateful for that.

No comments: