8.5.05

Lest We Forget ...

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.

(Yes, this poem is most associated with the First World War, when it was written by a Canadian. But I think it fits nevertheless, don't you?)

Sixty years ago today, the "greatest generation" completed the defeat the greatest menace ever to threaten the world (although we should remember that much more lay ahead - "VJ Day" was months away). They defeated a regime that engaged in the deliberate, well-planned and horrifyingly well-executed genocide of the Jewish race, and that engineered the deaths of millions more.

If you're reading this, odds are good that you weren't directly involved in WW II - but more likely than not, someone in your family was involved, somehow. That "someone" may have been a 19 year old kid, who had to learn how to fight and even kill at an age when most of us were tapping kegs in university; it may have been one of the thousands of women who had to break the existing rules of society and go to work in the munitions factories; it may have been a kid who lived in what you now call the "old country" and who grew up under Nazi occupation; or it may have been a man or a woman with a faint blue number tattooed onto their arm. That "someone" may be your grandfather, or great-grandmother, and that "someone" may still be with you - or they may be gone.

We owe the ones that are gone our love and prayers and memory. We owe the ones that are still here - especially the ones who went "over there" to fight - a decent and dignified existance, without forcing them to go on hunger strikes or wrestle through red tape to get what they deserve. We owe them all a debt of grattitude for dealing with an evil that puts whatever political squabbles we face today far into the shade.

And we owe the same level of support and respect to those who also served Canada and the world in Canada's army, navy and air force before and since.

And we owe it to them all to remember them, and what they did, every day - particularly today, and particularly on 11 November, but not just on those days.

There's all sorts of political matters, and other things, to talk about. But not today.

More later.

2 Comments:

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Canadi-anna said...

Nice tribute. Too often we remember the soldier, sailor and airman only when it is expedient to do so. And, unfortunately, it has not been with the reverence or respect they deserve. Things seem to be getting better, but one wonders, when the last of the WWII and Korea Vets has passed away, will our children still remember and understand the need to celebrate these people?

 
At 2:47 AM, Blogger robert mcbean said...

i was at the cemetary today and spent quite a bit of time looking at some soldiers headstones from wwI and wwII. they were all really young.

 

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