Monday, 12 November 2007

Remembrance Day Reflections...

Remembrance Day Reflections...

As I watched the Cenotaph Ceremony on TV yesterday I was struck by my mixed emotions and reminded that I’m not sure what to think about Remembrance Day.

Firstly, I can’t help but think of those in the forces, those who died and those who returned, some whole and some broken. My family has strong ties to the forces with members of both my immediate and extended family having served. So I feel the burden of the “covenant” the country has with those who risk their lives for us, and yet I struggle with the idea of war and violence.

I suppose this is reflected by my understanding of war- I am torn between espousing the peaceful non cooperation of Gandhi on one hand, and the desire to fight for justice of Camilo Torres on the other... complicated.

So here are some of my random thoughts...

Although a staunch republican, I do respect the fact that members of the royal family have themselves served in the front line.

I do believe that many have made sacrifices, I do believe that the struggle against Nazism for example was necessary- but why don’t we remember those who volunteered to fight against the other fascist dictator- Franco?

How do I respond to the fact that soldiers are dying in a war I did not support...

What about those who did in the struggles against injustice but who didn’t wear a uniform?

Where is the place for remembering the conscientious objectors (there wasn’t always the option for them to serve in a non-combatant role like stretcher bearing)? There were those who were incarcerated in the most notorious prisons.

Do the politicians who place their wreaths actually realise the gravity of their decisions to send their countries to war?

So as you can probably tell, I’m a little uncertain how I feel.
If any question why they died

Tell them because our fathers lied

Rudyard Kipling

The hand that signed the paper

The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death.

The mighty hand leads to a sloping shoulder,
The fingers' joints are cramped with chalk;
A goose's quill has put an end to murder
That put an end to talk.

The hand that signed the treaty bred a fever,
And famine grew, and locusts came;
Great is the hand that holds dominion over
Man by a scribbled name.

The five kings count the dead but do not soften
The crusted wound nor stroke the brow;
A hand rules pity as a hand rules heaven;
Hands have no tears to flow.

Dylan Thomas

[Sorry about the formatting... blogger just can't get it right. grrr...]

No comments: