November 11, 2023
It's a justly famous poem. The Great War certainly produced some great poets. At the Cenotaph in Whitehall today, 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it's "They shall not grow 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 shall remember them" And Rupert Brooke's 1914 take on English exceptionalism: "If I should die think only this of me, that there's some corner of the foreign field that is forever England....in hearts at peace, under an English heaven." (He died in 1915) Then Wilfred Owens' 1917 poem (died 1918): "If you could hear at every jolt the blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs....my dear, you would not say with such high zest, to schoolboys ardent for some desperate glory, the old lie: Dulce et Decorum Est, Pro Patria Mori."
As do I, but we are a country of immigrants, and it’s rather much to expect new Canadians from afar to actually understand. Or for that matter for gen z, x..whatever ...making Nov 11 a holiday seems wrong...it’s one more long weekend...and signals start of Christmas junk..anyone bubbling on about “they died for..” is wrong...they went out of duty, out of youth seeking adventure....not for “freedom” or some such BS..those who were in the line of fire came back changed, many broken...my grandfather shot himself unable to cope..my great uncle was never able to function, my father with only one good leg and unable to share in my growing up...for all the heroes- the real ones were those who peed themselves yet still did their jobs..so, I remember..but I can’t expect others to, nor make it some political farce ..
I learned this poem by heart in Grade 5 or 6 and have never forgotten it!
Just came back from a packed auditorium in Spruce Grove. Pipes made the place ring!!! Parking lot packed as well - pride in our armed forces is strong. Just hope that the rumour that JT's feds are going to cut defence spending is false - is there anything left to cut when we're at barebones already?
This is your best article ever because it shows a wide, deep, caring side of you. Not just an observing reporter.
I’m a student who has recently come back from a solo trip to front line Ukraine. I’ve just published a new piece on my experiences and thought readers here may appreciate it. Please do see what you think. https://irongoose.substack.com/
Profound words of substance so noted and welcomed in this era of escalation, we shalt not forget for whence we came because of the efforts of others. Today I painted poppy’s in a field, in Monterey CA. Then was required to transpose them into vectorized versions of them selves. It sounds like a play on words, but that is how the industry wants to receive files. Vectorized. I grasp that conversion but to paint quietly in a field of poppies, with pencil and watercolor, knowing the historical significance, was profoundly grounding.
Thank you Diane, for this sublime work.
Thank you, Diane. Yes, Lest We Forget. Yet wars continue to plague us with no end in sight. Makes one wonder about humans / humanity.
Thank you Diane. My husband, after a lengthy and painful time, was a victim of the Korean 'conflict', as much a WAR as the first and second world wars, with more Canadian blood spilled. It will be a great honour for me to have my ashes interred next to his in our National cemetery.
And guns continue their blood-spilling. Will humanity never learn?
May all our fallen sisters and brothers who showed great courage to the end rest in eternal peace wherever poppies grow, and far beyond.
Here is a beautiful song about a searing grief that refers to this poem. It is by Jacques Brel and sung by Elly Stone. I see youtube has Brel singing it too.
FYI Diane - the Legion is selling lawn signs (like the ones our wannabe candidates put up) that has WE WILL REMEMBER THEM - bordered by poppies - $20 each - from the Legion. I actually just tripped over this news - flew to the local legion and got 2 signs - only one on our block, only one in our division - very sad that this was not better advertised BUT next year I hope more will puchase them. Wish I could send you a picture of it - OR did you know about this sign?
I cried when they played the pipes at the entry of the 'guard' and service men/women marched in - Flanders Fields always just destroys my composure as to some of the hymns. Tough 90 minutes but never miss it.
I sat next to a elementary teacher at the service - they memorize Flanders Fields, sing O Canada, each morning and to a pledge to the flag. HOW refreshing - I thought schools abandoned that ritual.