At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, there was peace. At least, there was supposed to be. The great World War ended in 1918 and yet, here we are, almost 100 years later with another World War under our belts, hundreds of other conflicts passed – or still underway – and hundreds upon thousands of deaths.
This marks my first Remembrance Day in the UK and compared to back home, they do the whole thing here: poppy appeals and remembrance services and teachings in school. I acknowledge that it is important to remember; those who’ve died, those who’ve lost, and those who’ve been left behind. But surely we should also be remembering the value of peace and life and love.
The poem most often linked to this occasion is John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields. It is a powerful poem, and the first two lines are incredibly sad.
“In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row”
But the poem also calls for a continuation. In the final verse the dead ask us to continue their battle, to honour them, to keep the flame of war alight…
“Take up the quarrel with our foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.”
I am a debater and I have spent time questioning whether there is ever such a thing as a just war. At this stage of my life, I’m inclined to say no. Is it ever just to justify the deaths of innocent people? This is important, because it is always the innocent who die.
This week, remember those who have died in battle, those who have been injured, and those who are left behind. Remember those who continue to march into conflict zones today. Remember your own loved ones; no matter how, when or where you lost them. But also remember, these people lie on both sides of the bloodied war path.
I remember Old Granny, Town Grandpa, Caryn, Brad, Duncan, and Dom – none of whom were lost at war, some of whom were taken before their time, and all of whom touched my heart.
We will remember them.