Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day—Lest We Forget Why…

Poppy field by Monet
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

Today is dedicated to those who gave their lives for freedom. It is also a reminder of the atrocity of war in all its forms.

War is a paradox. It is both tragic and an opportunity. The very action of being at war, seems to galvanize us and polarize us. War heightens contrast, increases pitch, and resonates through us. It brings out the very worst but also the very best in us; for, as some of us sink into despair and debauchery to help ourselves, others heroically rise in service and humble sacrifice to help others. War defines us, perhaps like no other phenomenon.

Said Dickens in “A Tale of Two Cities”:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

Let us remember, so that those who follow us have a chance to remember too…

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, saw dawn, felt sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
 –John McCrae

Doctor Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) John McCrae of the 1st Field Artillery Brigade wrote this poem on May 3, 1915 after the battle at Ypres. The poem was later published in "Punch", December 8, 1915.


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