Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dulce et decorum est ... NOT

(Photo: Dam wall, Derwent Resevoir, Peak District)

I hate Remembrance Day as much as I hate Anzac Day - the underlying message behind both days is not lost on me:

[continuous grooming by our establishments to ready us for war]

After all there is money in war, and power in war, and profiteers do well ... we don't, but who cares?

Our governments certainly don't, and in order to keep us from subscribing to our rightful disillusionment, they generously offer us cake and circuses on an annual basis ... sigh

So here I am in England, turning off the radio, turning off the television, trying to escape nauseous commememoration ceremonies, menacing omnipresent poppies accompanied by equally menacing omnipresent pro-establishment-poppy-police-media ... yet in spite of my best efforts to steer clear of it all I can't help remembering anyway the waste and lost opportunities suffered by my family, just for starters, over the last century ...

I am remembering my poor dear dead father caught up in an incorrectly packed parachute useless on ejection from his jaguar into the Atlantic; and I am remembering my grandfather shot on the Kyber Pass; and I am remembering my great-grandfather stricken down by Spannish flu somewhere in Europe; and now I am remembering an uncle shot down in flames during the Emergency ...

...and I also remember every day that as a result of the terrible impact war and the military have had on her life, my poor dear mother has retreated into forgetfullness - remembering (hands off, Lilly, forgetfulness needn't always be about Alzheimers you know - sometimes it's a tragic coping mechanism) was too much for her.

The hero worship of the military and 'all-things-our-wars' is obscene and far removed from the gritty brutal truth of real war and the gritty brutal truth of real military preparation - we are wrong to allow this constant militaristation to continue.

When will it stop?

When we will stop listening to the misleading political deception (routinely drummed out on days like today, November 11) that our country needs us to lay down our lives for theirs or somebody's murky geopolitical plan - bullshit it does ...

Would that Wilfred Owen's words written on October 8, 1917 had dated because they had been heeded ... but they have not and were not, and almost a hundred years on they are as tragic and as devastating as they were when they were written about the shocking human carnage from the war that was to end all wars ...

The sadness, the tragedy, the accuracy ...

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime ...

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues ...

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

(Wilfred Owen was killed in action November 4, 1918

There's nothing glorious about war or the military, and commemoration days for the 1918 Armistice or the 1915 Gallipolli campaign are pointless because the one thing that never happens is 'remembrance' ... if it did we woulnd't still be fighting and killing and maiming and dying.


  1. Funny ... in Canada, your anti-Remembrance-Day rant would pass for a standard Remembrance Day address, so long as you added some flags, some uniforms, the Last Post and a bit about appreciating the sacrifice.

    1. That's a relief to hear - in the UK and Oz these days are just a continuous recruitment drive for the military ... sigh

  2. How did your dad survive? Obviously, he didn't die during the war, as you were born some years afterwards.

    There is a memorable anti-"Great War" poem in the dialect of Italian spoken in Rome by Trilussa, "Ninna Nanna della guerra", about how it is all a sort of con game organised by cousins - as the crowned heads were at the time, obviously screwing and killing the common people of the respective countries.

    1. He didn't survive, Lagatta, he was killed in 1981 in a low-level flying exercise (aka continuous military preparation for war), senseless and devastating for my family ...

      ... the anti Great War poem you mention does indeed sound memorable - and yet we've learnt nothing - I think that's what really gets to me each year - we keep repeating history as our leaders continue to remember nothing at all despatching us to endless wars endlessly

    2. I'm sorry, I had misread and thought you were talking about the Second World War.

      Yes, it is a terrible, terrible waste. Moreover, we see more and more to what extent war and militarism are connected with with petroleum and all manner of motor vehicles, and other forms of ecocidal "development".

    3. That is so true ... war and militarism are bad news