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Friday, November 11, 2011

And the guns fell silent....

At 11 O'clock on November 11th 1918 the guns fell silent in Europe.

The scale of the carnage is something that today we can't begin to understand. People spoke of a war to end all wars but within 21 years it happened again. Alas.

The first world war was not glamourised by Hollywood like the second was and yet arguably it had a more profound affect on society. The class ridden nature of Britain was changed, it didn't full over night but many of the boundaries started to crumble.

To put the carnage of the World War I in to some context on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, the British suffered 57,420 casualties, including 19,240 dead it was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army.

That's 19,240 dead on one side in one day!!! When you factor in Paschendale and Verdun you get some idea of the scale of the first world war.

Whatever your views of current conflicts the debt of honour we owe those who have laid down their lives for us has to be remembered - not just those in two world wars or current conflicts but also those of earlier conflicts. Waterloo for instance may be 190 years ago but it too had young men who thought bravely for their country.

Remembrance is not nationalistic or triumphalist. Young men on all sides did their duty for their country. Their sacrifice is something we should honour and remember.

For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is a music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted:
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.

2 comments:

holdingmoments said...

A fine tribute Pete.

I totally agree with you; it's a day to remember all the casualties of war, whatever side.

Tricia said...

ditto Keith.... very well said Pete. All countries suffer in war.