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For the Fallen - We Will Remember Them

Friday, November 11, 2011

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.

From "For the Fallen" by Robert Laurence Binyon

For the benefit of my mostly US audience, in the UK and many other countries we buy paper poppies around the 11th to commemorate those who served and those who fell during the World Wars. The poppies specifically memorialize the killing fields in France and Belgium during WWI where the "lions led by donkeys" on both sides killed each other in unimaginable numbers. Day in, day out. Only the Spanish Flu of 1918 outkilled the machine guns, mustard gas and barbed wire.

Today, then, is a noteworthy day in Europe, where the slaughter of the horribly misnamed "Great War" mostly took place between 1914 and 1918. Today, entire countries largely fall silent at 11am on November 11th to remember the wars, their dead, the valor of those who served and the bravery those who still do. It's a day of respect, retrospect and introspection.

In churches and schools, at services, memorials and cenotaphs in the cities, towns and villages, the stanza from Binyon's poem, quoted above, is often spoken as part of memorial services and readings. The focus back in Britain is markedly different today - a day that's somber, one of mourning not celebration - than Veteran's Day is here in the US, my adopted home. It has always been this way: Armistice Day has never been a celebratory day off. It's not a day to celebrate the military like it is here in the States (which is not to say it is necessarily better; it's just a different perspective).

In that spirit then, no matter what your politics, no matter where you live today, no matter what else you are doing or celebrating this November 11th, I would ask only this: Please take a moment today to remember the Fallen and their sacrifices, no matter where they fell nor for what cause.

Let us make it so that, for today at least, we will remember them.

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.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Lydia Sugarman said...

For me, as well, this has always been a very sad day where I find myself in frequently in tears, reflecting on all the lives cut short, all those beautiful idealistic young lions who left us too soon, following the old donkeys. War is never the answer, the solution for anything. Why do the men who've survived to become old continue to send the young to fight and die for their agendas? We celebrate the bravery of the fallen, but that is completely overshadowed by our collective grief.

11:45 AM, November 11, 2010  

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