I wanted to post a cake or thirty candles, or the number thirty, but after yesterday's posts about Fallujah I still did not feel in the mood of celebration. Then the obvious struck me. I've always been proud of my birth date. Apart from the numerical magic of 11th of the 11th (can't wait for 2011), the day has an important role in the history of many people. In world history in fact. It is remembrance day. I always knew my birthday was coming as a child when the War Veterans would turn up, up to one week before with can and poppies in hand. I treasured the paper poppies and somewhere at home I have the collection of dated poppies.
The message of rememberance day is twofold. Firstly we must remember those who passed away fighting wars and then we must remember not to forget. Not to forget the futility of war that brings only death and destruction. We must continue to oppose wars and persons who are prepared to wage war at all costs. So let us not forget. It is stating the obvious. But war is slow, peace is rock.
I hope Maltagirl forgives me but I leave you with a poem by Wilfred Owen. It is called Insensibility :
Happy are men who yet before they are killed
Can let their veins run cold.
Whom no compassion fleers
Or makes their feet
Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers.
The front line withers,
But they are troops who fade, not flowers
For poets' tearful fooling:
Men, gaps for filling
Losses who might have fought
Longer; but no one bothers.
And some cease feeling
Even themselves or for themselves.
Dullness best solves
The tease and doubt of shelling,
And Chance's strange arithmetic
Comes simpler than the reckoning of their shilling.
They keep no check on Armies' decimation.
Happy are these who lose imagination:
They have enough to carry with ammunition.
Their spirit drags no pack.
Their old wounds save with cold can not more ache.
Having seen all things red,
Their eyes are rid
Of the hurt of the colour of blood for ever.
And terror's first constriction over,
Their hearts remain small drawn.
Their senses in some scorching cautery of battle
Now long since ironed,
Can laugh among the dying, unconcerned.
Happy the soldier home, with not a notion
How somewhere, every dawn, some men attack,
And many sighs are drained.
Happy the lad whose mind was never trained:
His days are worth forgetting more than not.
He sings along the march
Which we march taciturn, because of dusk,
The long, forlorn, relentless trend
From larger day to huger night.
We wise, who with a thought besmirch
Blood over all our soul,
How should we see our task
But through his blunt and lashless eyes?
Alive, he is not vital overmuch;
Dying, not mortal overmuch;
Nor sad, nor proud,
Nor curious at all.
He cannot tell
Old men's placidity from his.
But cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,
That they should be as stones.
Wretched are they, and mean
With paucity that never was simplicity.
By choice they made themselves immune
To pity and whatever mourns in man
Before the last sea and the hapless stars;
Whatever mourns when many leave these shores;
The eternal reciprocity of tears.