Remembrance Day

On this date one hundred years ago, western civilization stopped the greatest bloodletting ever witnessed in Europe. Although the Great War is often dismissed as a mere prologue to World War 2, it deserves special place in the western memory, for it was there  that future historians may begin their postmortem when western civilization’s decline and fall is written. The  millions of young men who perished fighting one another  cast a long shadow, and the evils this war unbottled have never been shut up again. The war was horrific beyond imagining.  In the United States the date has been taken over by “Veteran’s Day”.  yet another holiday for honoring the modern god of the state.  It should have remained Armistice Day, and better yet Remembrance Day, for its memory should haunt us. It should give us all pause in our every dealing with other nations.  
In remembrance, I offer a song which I have listened to every November 11th since I first encountered it, as a reminder 

Well how do you do young Willie McBride?
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
And rest for a while in the warm summer sun
I’ve been walking all day and I’m nearly done
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the great fallen in nineteen sixteen
Well I hope you died well. and I hope you died clean — 
Or young Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fifes lowly
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
And did the band play the last post and chorus? Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?
Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some faithful heart, is your memory enshrined?
And though you died back in nineteen sixteen — 
In some faithful heart are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Enclosed  forever behind a glass frame
In an old photograph.  torn, battered, and stained
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fifes lowly
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
And did the band play the last post and chorus? Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?
Well the sun now it shines on the green fields of France
There’s a warm summer breeze, it makes the red poppies dance
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds  — 
There’s no gas no barbed wire, there’s no gun firing now
But here in this graveyard it’s still no man’s land
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man
To a whole generation that were butchered and damned
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fifes lowly
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
And did the band play the last post and chorus? Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?
Ah, young Willie McBride,  I can’t help wonder why — 
Do those that lie here know why did they die?
And did they believe when they answered the call…
Did they really believe that this war would end war?
Well the sorrow,  the suffering, the glory, the pain — 
The killing,  the dying, it  was all done in vain
For young Willie McBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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4 Responses to Remembrance Day

  1. CyberKitten says:

    We've just had our Remembrance Sunday here. You're right about WW1 opening a Pandora's Box that we're still dealing with. Will we ever learn I wonder?

  2. mudpuddle says:

    put not your faith in politicians (including the one percent who really don't care about any of us…) this war warped “civilization” to such an extent that the world has never recovered, imo…

  3. Stephen says:

    We have in part and we have not. Nation-states don't go to war with one another as quickly as they used to, possibly because the stakes are so much greater these days….but we still grasp for control over others, still get blinded by idealism and not realize that every exercise has a cost, both in lives and material.

  4. Stephen says:

    Whole-heartedly agreed, to both remarks.

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