Today 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.
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…
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.”