Remembrance

11 Nov

Every year, for weeks in the month of November, I wear a poppy on my left side near to my heart. I do this in honour of those whose lives were taken in the trenches of war.

As a child in school, I participated in Remembrance Day services and did my very best not to squirm, wiggle or scratch during the long two minutes of silence. I had no inkling then, of what I should be thinking about — I did not know what war was, not really — but I did know that it was important to remember the soldiers who had died in wars, fighting for our freedom.

Now that I know more about the tragedy and horror of war, I believe that it is important to remember those soldiers’ sacrifices — not to glorify war, but to work towards establishing a world where we all live in peace.

I found this poem by Siegfried Sassoon, a decorated soldier and one of the leading poets of World War I. Sassoon was awarded the Military Cross for bravery on the Western Front, for displaying outstanding gallantry while rescuing wounded and retrieving dead comrades while under enemy fire. Sassoon, who had enlisted to fight in the war because of a sense of patriotism, later developed strong anti-war feelings and this is reflected in his “war” poetry.

Aftermath

Have you forgotten yet?…
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.

But the past is just the same-and War’s a bloody game…
Have you forgotten yet?…
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz–
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench-
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack–
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads—those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?…
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.
~ Siegfried Sassoon (1919)

~~~~~

When I was searching for a poem for this post, I came across a quote that really expressed my hope for the world, one that, if fulfilled, would be a fitting tribute to ALL the men and women who died fighting for what they believed in.

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war’
~ Eve Merriam

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