Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Remembrance Day, Everybody !!

Remembrance Day, ah yes, the autumnal ritual in which we sleep in late, getting up just in time, maybe, to turn on the set and watch better people in their winter finery turn out to throng statues, take in a prayer or two and the odd poem, maybe a fly past overhead as a wreath is laid and, for the really lucky, perhaps even a cannonade. Bagpipes and bugles galore and beret-capped old men in overstuffed blazers and grey flannels in their ranks and files standing at attention and saluting absent friends.

I feel for those old guys. For them it's an actual rite of remembrance, a mix of their own horrors or wartime boredom and the young guys they grew up with who never grew old.

The rest? Well they show up for any number of reasons. For some it's the politically correct thing to do. Some turn out mainly to be seen turning up. For others it may be the allure of group participation.  Remembrance. Remember what? Remember the dead. What dead? Who? Name them. Where did they die, how, why? What about their death do you venerate other than the fact that they stopped living?

Of course, it's their sacrifice to which we pay our humble respect. Interesting word "sacrifice." Verb and a noun. Did they sacrifice their lives or did we sacrifice them? Not many went out to sacrifice their lives. They didn't set out to die. They set out to kill the other guy but it just didn't work out that way. They did, however, follow orders under which they could and often were sacrificed - for "the cause," the greater good of course.

We fed them - by their squads, platoons, companies and regiments - into wars of attrition, the "last man standing" sort of warfare. There's sacrifice for you, lambs to slaughter.

But there's always "Lest We Forget." We mustn't forget because... oh, I know! Those who forget their history are bound to repeat it. If we forget we're going to wind up in another war. So we remember.

This all began after the Great War. We had to remember their sacrifice so we didn't ever get dragged into another global meat grinder. Only 20-years later we were at it again and I don't think it was for want of remembrance in the interval. There was even more sacrifice in that one, especially those millions of civilians - kids, women - who got to make the "ultimate sacrifice" too. They're just as dead but we don't venerate them do we, no sorry.

Up until the 20th century, deaths from war were pretty steady at 80% military, 20% civilian. That all got reversed in the 20th century. WWII was 20% military, 80% civilians and it speaks to our twisted morality that we consider four out of five of the dead as "collateral" casualties, mortal detritus, human cordwood.

There'll be no wreaths for them, no bagpipes, no solemn poems - nothing. I suppose it wouldn't be in keeping with the martial theme of the event. Besides we gotta wrap this up, the malls open at 1p.m.


rumleyfips said...

Lots of civilians ( nothwitstanding that conscripts are really civilians caught ) died in WW1. It was WW2 however when Hitler, Churchill. King, Roosevelt et al decided that civilians were fair game. Kill enough of them, destroy thie schools and hospitals etc and they would capitulate. No such thing happened but millions died proving these tin pot potentates wrong.

Fast forward to Iraq. Bomb civilians, kill their children in exploding schools and their elderly parents in hospital and they would kill Saddam for us . They didn't. And remember Canadian F18's took part in this bombing.

And now thousands of Syrian civilians are dead and millions ( 53% of them children ) are refugees trudging endless kilometers to escape death and destruction to be told NO ROOM; NO ROOM.

Pogo said it . We have met the enemy and he is us.

Toby said...

Anonymous said...

Remember? How about never repeat!