On the Eleventh Hour, of the Eleventh Day, of the Eleventh Month

Remembrance Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the armistice of WWI, at that hour on that date, we remember the dead of war.

There will come a day, not too far from now, when there are no survivors of the two great wars, and the living memory of these two horrific wars will be gone. This has already happened with WWI. There are no veterans of that war left. No one to tell, from memory, the horrors of that war. Of standing in muddy trenches, with soaked boots, never to be able to get your feet dry, until for many gangrene set in. Of the stench of corpses, both in “no man’s land” and in the very trenches themselves. Of a war of attrition where millions died; where the strategy was to have men throw themselves over the top of the trench and run towards the machine guns of the enemy. A war that saw the first use of poison gas in war.

The motto of Remembrance Day is “Lest We Forget”. Lest we forget those who died. Lest we forget what they went through.

On this day, we do not remember war for its supposed glory. We do something that we do not like to do. We remember its dead. Those who died. On both sides.

We remember with John McRae’s poem, in Flanders Fields, who fought in the Second Battle of Ypres, where the dead of that battle, and the battle before were buried in Flanders Fields. And it is because of this poem that we remember by wearing the poppy. And it is because we remember the dead on both sides, that Remembrance Day is not a patriotic event. We remember the dead. They died before we were born. But still we remember them.

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.

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