Last week was a tough week, a crazy week. To a certain extent I’ve lost track of what time of year it is, what day it is. And I hope it’s not too late to acknowledge Remembrance Day.
I booked my car in for a service this morning. The mechanic I have known for years had a photo on the wall of a handsome young man in uniform. Turns out it was his brother who is in the army and is serving in Iraq. His brother had done badly in school, wandered directionless from one dead-end job to the next, his sense of self eroded. Then at 22 a friend convinced him to join the army as a way of gaining an apprenticeship and some focus. He never expected to see active duty.
Every day my mechanic fears for his brother’s life. Every day his brother fears that he will have to take a stranger’s life in the name of duty. He takes things day by day, acting honourably, swallowing his struggles while straining to hear the one word that will change everything – HOME.
Thank you to all those people who have served or have given their lives in war. Thank you and Godspeed to all those still serving. The poet, Edward Thomas, sums it up best for me.
In Memoriam (Easter 1915)
“The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.”
In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army
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.
We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moina Michael, November 1918
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
I enjoy reading your blog. It’s very well-written.
The selfish mom in me is thrilled that my son’s unit is just returning from Iraq. Since he’s only just graduated from his training, he hasn’t even met his “buddies” yet. They won’t be slated (God willing) for deployment for another year or so – Time to mature, time to live, time to learn, and hopefully time for the war to end!
David – lovely to meet you and thank you for the inclusion of the poems, they are beautiful. Thanks also for your very kind comment.
Groovy – I am praying the war will be over by the time your son is deployed, but if not he will have the training and support behind him to help him cope. As well as a wonderful and very groovy Mum!
Being in the US, we are obviously dealing with this a lot right now – kids who joined up for college money or something to do, never expecting any kind of active duty. In fact, MOST of the people deployed are Reserves – people who signed up too young to remember a time of war and thinking there was no way they’d ever be called to Active Duty.
Is it wrong of me to say I’m sorry our dip shit president dragged you all into it too?
No, you’re not wrong, Miss Britt!
And, if that kow-towing little snollygoster WE call a Prime Minister hadn’t supported him, I’m not sure if the President would have gone it alone.
Miss Britt – no it’s not wrong of you. Sadly, our PM was so keen to join in he was almost chomping at the bit. I’ve heard about the Reserves in the US being deployed three or four times. It really is an outrage. When, oh when is it going to end?
Travelrat – I often think that too. If Blair and Howard hadn’t thrown their hats in the ring would George W have had the gumption to go it alone? Whenever I think of Iraq I get a song in my head that won’t go away, the old “War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing” by Edwin Starr. In this case, absolutely nothing is right.
oh Selma: Just beautiful… and No its NEVER too LATE to remember.
Don’t get me wrong … as an ex-Serviceman, I’m 100% in support of our troops. But, who was it decribed them as ‘Lions led by donkeys’?
FWIW, I’m wholly in favour of them going into Afghanistan … although the politicos have fumbled the situation there sadly. But, as for Iraq … if we were going to settle Saddam’s hashish, we should have done it in 1991.
Meleah – thank you so much. I agree, we have to remember all our troops. They have given up so much for us!
Keith – I know you support the troops 100%, as do I. I just feel for them so badly caught in the crossfire of a political debate that looks like it’s going to go on forever. Whatever happened to the days where the world leaders used to fight on the front line with their men?
I believe James Callaghan was the last Prime Minister who actually served!
I would like to see more politicians wearing medals (one they’re entitled to, of course) at the Cenotaph.