On this eleventh day of the eleventh month I’ve seen many blogs talking of the poppies and of the fallen during all the wars from WWI onwards.
The red poppy is a poignant symbol of the men and women who have fallen in the cause of freedom chosen because the Flanders fields were covered with poppies in the First World War.
In later times the white poppy became significant to some. Not because they didn’t respect nor dis-remember those who gave their lives to a cause, a country but because they also wanted to get people thinking about stopping wars like these again, about having peace.
My grandfathers both served in WWI, my parents both served in WWII. I have served in the RAF as did my brother while my sister served in the Army. We would all have fought had we been asked to. My nephew was serving in the Welsh Fusiliers when they were called to the Falkland Islands and he also did duty elsewhere where losing friends traumatised him though he carried on. If we have more wars there’s a chance that my younger nephews could be called upon to fight or even my grandson. I don’t want to take that risk and would rather leave them with a world almost totally at peace. To that end I ask as I have so many times before that we consider bringing our sons and daughters home from war zones to where they belong. That we start to respect and enjoy the differences between us instead of fearing them and find ourselves open to the idea of giving and accepting hugs with those we formerly thought of as enemies.
Some regimes are brutal and while we can help refugees we cannot count ourselves the world police and get involved in every conflict. Nor can we create conflict merely to gain the oil production of some states. There must be change but that change must come from within. Brutal regimes must be ousted by those who are oppressed by them. Change must be wrought so that these places can be run in the way the people choose which may not be our way. And if they choose that we must accept it. We owe it to ourselves and our descendants to leave them with peace.
I want to leave you with two poems which focus our attention to the day but which I hop will give you pause to think we don’t want to repeat the past in this way.
For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
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.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
In 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.
by John McCrae (1872-1918)
Hugs to you all whoever you are and whatever your beliefs.