November 11 marks Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in Commonwealth nations around the world and Veterans Day in the United States. The sentiment is the essentially the same: To remember and pay respects to our veterans both living and dead, young and old.
Though on this blog I often speak of the aerial battles of the last one hundred years I think it important to reflect on the true horrors of war. Though we simulate these conflicts, there is no comparison.
We remember the many millions dead or many more who came back from war not quite the same way they left. Those who survived brought the echos of conflicts back to their homes and families in different ways. War is not a thing that to cherish despite my intense interest in the history of it.
Every year the trumpet sounds, bagpipes are played and we take a moments silence to mark the occasion. Once more we read the famous poem by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
This poem was composed at the front during the second battle of Ypres on on May 3, 1915. Later promoted to Colonel, John McCrae would not survive to see the end of the war as complications from pneumonia would finally take their toll.
I think the core purpose of Remembrance Day is to go that step beyond and remember not only the veterans but the things that they had to endure. To remember, not so that we can re-fight the wars of old, but to actively work to prevent the conflicts of the future. To understand that these fights are never glorious nor desired.
Image Credit: I had trouble finding the credit for this featured image. If it is yours and it has been used inappropriately please contact me and I will remove it immediately (also, its a lovely photo and fitting for a day such as this).