Remembering Those Who Sacrificed in War

10

Every 11th November, since I was very young, I pause to remember those who sacrificed their lives in conflicts. I usually become melancholy and reflective.

It is important to me, as I am highly appreciative of those noble souls.
Perhaps not quite for the reasons that some share.

I am educated and I pride myself to be open minded and to research and think. I know that not all conflicts were noble in intent, and some were cynical beyond belief. I know the First World War, the bloodiest of all wars, was not about protecting one’s borders, which was the intent of the allies during the Second World War. I know the Vietnam war was far from a benevolent exercise. This isn’t what I am on about. I am talking about the ‘diggers’, as we Australians call the enlisted man and woman, the people who carry out the wishes of their country.

In the First World War the common soldier and sailor saw the conflict in black and white terms and sacrificed horrendously. In the Second World War the Allies sacrificed to truly save their lands from conquest. It got muddier, murkier in later years, but the majority of enlisted and the conscripted didn’t see it that way, by and large. They had a job to do. Most loved their countries.

So, in the vast majority of cases, our countrymen who perished in war died because they served their countries willingly, and with the noblest of intent. As an Australian, I know that many Australians and other nationals died in the Pacific Theatre to stop my country from being occupied and exploited.

That is why I pause. I didn’t serve in the military and I did not at any stage of my life experience first hand war. But I hear the echoes of those who did, and they move me. So much more the sacrifice.

I offer a poem by the talented, tragically short-lived war poet, Wilfred Owen, who in fact died in combat a few days before Armistice Day.

Lest we forget!

Anthem For Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen
10 Comments
  1. Jack Eason says

    Lest we forget…

    1. Jack Eason says

      One tiny point Gerry which may not matter to most people, but does to me as a returned serviceman – Diggers only ever refers to Australian servicemen.

      The correct collective term for Australians and New Zealanders who have served in all conflicts since the First Word War is ANZAC’s.

      Nice piece by the way 🙂

      1. Jack Eason says

        Just in case you think I am mistaken, here is further proof, courtesy of my copy of my encyclopedia: “During the Vietnam War, two companies from the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment were integrated into Royal Australian Regiment battalions. These integrated battalions had the suffix (ANZAC) added to their name (for example, 4 RAR became the 4RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion).[1] The ANZAC Battle Group is an active battle group of Australian and New Zealand units deployed to Timor Leste as part of Operation Astute. The battle group was established in September 2006.”

  2. Jack Eason says

    Further, the Term Anzac was first applied to the combined Australian and New Zealand forces in the First World War.

    Don’t for one moment think I’m getting at you, nothing could be further from the truth. 🙂

  3. joycewhite says

    My poem Does It Matter Who We Vote for is in homage to my brother who committed suicide after he got back from Viet Nam and my father who served both in the Navy and Army till he was 40. How can we thank them now that they are cold in a box? Those who full should have the mandatory awards of house to come home to and a job or money to sustain them when injured and can’t work. Joyce

  4. Andrew J. Sacks says

    Gerry, fine work to post today, and perfect poem to accompany.

  5. Andrew J. Sacks says

    Both Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon were very talented poets taken from us by the horrors of World War I.

  6. RHPolitz says

    Nicely done Gerry. It struck a nerve with me so, thank you for remembering.

  7. gerryhuntman says

    Jack, thanks for the correction – I’m 51 years old and I never knew that. Just shows. Now it is fixed.

    Angie – thanks for fast tracking this article – it was important to get it out on Remembrance Day.

    G

  8. Nancy Duci Denofio says

    So touching, you brought me to the fields – and let us feel the pain – Thank you for sharing, Sincerely, Nancy

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