Monday, November 11, 2013

"Lest We Forget on a Day with So Much to Remember" - RB

I really hate predictability, so I wasn't going to write a 'Remembrance Day' blog post today. It felt too on the nose. But this year especially, Remembrance Day has multiple meanings for me, so what the heck - perhaps my conformity will surprise some of you and my reputation will remain intact.

Like most who study History, I feel a certain connection to this day and hope to somehow honour its significance each year. I guess having studied the past, we understand the importance of memory; and having read of the horrors of war, we understand the heroism of service.

And like many in my generation, my Grandfather served in WWII. He lied about his age and joined the South African Signal Corps. He was captured in 1942 and waited out the war in various POW camps. His battles didn't end with his repatriation, nor did his bravery. This is my first Remembrance Day without him.

Today is also the birthday of a friend who passed away in 2008. He was a deep thinker and liked the connection between himself and such an important date in history. There were poppies at his funeral. This is also his day, so I remember him, as well.

As an internationalist and a pacifist, I also have mixed feelings about a day that is often distorted by nationalism. I wish there were less flags and anthems at Remembrance Day ceremonies. I wish this was a day to talk about peace, as well as war.

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past 
Without a word - the men 
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages 
lasting a little while longer;
Never such innocence again.
- "MCMXIV" Philip Larkin