Remembrance Day 2013 – Lest We Forget

imageToday is Remembrance Day here in Canada, Australia, the UK, and elsewhere across the globe. Coinciding with Remembrance Day, our American cousins mark this day as Veterans Day.

Remembrance Day brings with it a sober opportunity to reflect on the courage and nobility of those who have served, in the past, or who do so presently, to protect the foundations of our democracies. We know only too well the high price those that we remember today paid in order to protect the freedoms we cherish.

I’m forever grateful for their selflessness, and their generosity of spirit.

Sadly though, as a society we seem to lack the observation and analytical skills necessary to establish a critical perspective on the true horrors, and the real outcome, of war.

Freedom isn’t free.

image

National War Memorial – Ottawa, Canada.

The Veteran – Lest We Forget

It is the VETERAN , not the preacher,

who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the VETERAN , not the reporter,

who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the VETERAN , not the poet,

who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the VETERAN , not the campus organizer,

who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the VETERAN , not the lawyer,

who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the VETERAN , not the politician,

Who has given us the right to vote.

The following poem, penned by Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, while he served in the First World War, has achieved near-mythical status here in Canada, and is one of the country’s most prominent symbols.

As well, this poem is part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in the United Kingdom, and is often recalled in Memorial Day ceremonies, in the United States.

McCrae died of pneumonia January 28, 1918, while on active duty in Boulogne, northern France.

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…

Another view:

Paul Keating’s Remembrance Day Address – “The First World War was a war devoid of any virtue. It arose from the quagmire of European tribalism. A complex interplay of nation state destinies overlaid by notions of cultural superiority peppered with racism. The First World War not only destroyed European civilisation and the empires at its heart; its aftermath led to a second conflagration, the Second World War, which divided the continent until the end of the century.”

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10 Comments

Filed under Opinion, Personal Perspective

10 responses to “Remembrance Day 2013 – Lest We Forget

  1. Mal

    Hi Bill,
    Paul Keating was a controversial PM, but he nailed it with that speech.
    Cheers
    Mal

  2. Thank you very much./usmc

    • Hey Kenneth,

      The “Thanks” belongs to you, my friend.

      Though we might have lost you for a bit – good to see that you’re still hanging with me. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Bob Slyker

    Hey Bill,

    What would become of “free people” be without our brave “volunteer” service personal?

    This Poem sure ignites a lot of discussion and debate.

    I “think” this may be the original authorized version: http://www.iwvpa.net/provincecm/

    IT IS THE SOLDIER
    It is the Soldier, not the minister
    Who has given us freedom of religion.

    It is the Soldier, not the reporter
    Who has given us freedom of the press.

    It is the Soldier, not the poet
    Who has given us freedom of speech.

    It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
    Who has given us freedom to protest.

    It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
    Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

    It is the Soldier, not the politician
    Who has given us the right to vote.

    It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
    Who serves beneath the flag,
    And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
    Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

    ~~~~~

    Thank You, VETS…

    Best,

    Bob

    ©Copyright 1970, 2005 by Charles M. Province

    Webmaster’s Note: Mr. Charles M. Province has contacted me with the request that due credit be given to his authorship of the poem, “It Is the Soldier”, which has, to my knowledge, for several years been attributed to Father Denis Edward O’Brien, USMC. Mr. Province has advised that Father O’Brien once sent a copy of the poem to “Dear Abby” and it was printed erroneously giving credit to Father O’Brien for writing it.

    It is at that point that the authorship became clouded. I reproduce this information in the hope of ensuring Mr. Province receives full, appropriate and most deserved credit for his wonderful piece.

  4. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    With you all the way on this. I always wear my poppy and support the annual poppy raffle. I also watch the ceremony at the cenotaph in London and observe the 2 minutes silence, even though I’m always out of the country. Never fails to bring a tear to the eye.

    This has nothing to do with approval of recent conflicts, just rembering those of all nations who made the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of us.

    Following on from Remembrance Sunday, today was Armistice day, so I wear my poppy until the end of today. It is worth remembering though that the armistice was not the end of the killing.

    Kind regards,
    John

    • Hi John,

      Agreed. Seems like such a small thing. Two minutes of silence to reflect on who we are, how we got here, and who’s sacrifice and courage paved the way. Deserves considerably more than two minutes of silence, I should think.

      Best,

      Bill

  5. This is pretty darn special Bill..

    Cheers mate… Jim