Remembrance Day

Posted: July 15, 2010 in Poetry

CONTEXT: June, 2010

I have had a nagging problem with Remembrance Day for a long time now. It is the same problem I have with the War Museum. In both cases I know and respect what the INTENT is, but I find that often they end up glorifying war, which is just not cool.

I guess one of my problems is that I have great respect for people who are forced to fight, or fight for what seems to be a good cause… but then there are those who…

Well. I don’t really want to slag anyone, but who volunteers to go fight in Iraq? If it was because Bush convinced you that attacking Iraq was countering the 9/11 attacks (which is a lie) or that Saddam had big WMDs (which was a lie)… then I support you and am sorry that you are risking your life over lies.

This still isn’t coming out right, which is why I never really wrote that poem. Sometimes poetry paints with a very wide brush and the wrong people get swept up in it.

Anyway, at an Ingredients workshop held by the Recipe, I wrote this poem. This sums up a different aspect of Remembrance Day that bothers me, but for a very different reason.

    Remembrance Day

They march in rows,
Boots falling in harmony
In perfect cadence –
Left, right, left,
Faces so young
Leaving behind that
Weighted frivolity of
Love and family
But never dreams.
They keep those packed
Away in their kits
Beside rations, gas mask,
An extra magazine.
Asked to commit the
Greatest horror and
Die for their country –
The greatest horror
And kill for their country.
They think about the far
Future as a ward
Against the near future.
The moments of clarity
Are the moments to forget
That they can never forget
Flitting at the corners
Or perception
Until they sleep and
Those dreams are pushed
Back into their kits,
Replaced by nightmares
For those who have not become them.
Until they are asked to remember,
As if they could ever forget,
And we are asked to remember,
As if we could ever know.
And we see the faces – so young,
Marching in rows,
Boots falling in harmony
In perfect cadence.


Hate away. 🙂

Next is a poem about my hair colour. 🙂

  1. Wayne Beaton says:

    I suspect (but really don’t know) that lots of people volunteered–and continue to volunteer–to go and fight in Iraq. I suspect that some of these people are troubled individuals, but I suspect that a great many of them believe in the cause. Some of these increasing hypothetical people believe in “my country right or wrong”. Others believe that they are helping make the lives of our far-away neighbours better. I suspect that some just relish the thought of being able to shoot people.

    I have my own idealized view of the noble Canadian soldier dedicating themselves to the betterment of our far-away neighbours in Afganistan. While I realize that this is not entirely realistic–in fact, it may be totally naive–I have known enough soldiers over the years to know that this is true in many cases.

    I was at the War Museum with my son’s class a few months ago. The kids just rushed through all the “boring” stuff that described the nature of the conflicts and Canada’s involvement. They lingered at the “cool” stuff and made “ratta tat tat” noises and such. Until we got to the vehicle area. There, they have what’s left of a G-Wagon. I made them gather around it and look inside. I made them tell me what was interesting about the vehicle. After a few guesses that the vehicle had been destroyed decades ago in some now-abstract conflict (along with a couple of “ratta tat tat” noises), it dawned on them that the vehicle was new; that it had been built in the last few years. They figured out that the damage was recent. They figured out that the vehicle had been destroyed in Afganistan. They knew that somebody had been hurt very badly–possibly killed–when that damage occurred. The “ratta tat tat” noises stopped; at least for a few minutes as they stood in silence. For those few moments, I think they got it.

    Frankly, the CF-101 in that room makes me feel proud as hell. That G-Wagon scares the hell out of me.

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