Sunday, November 11, 2007

They Shall Not Grow Old. . .

I have to admit to being obsessed with World War I.

Today is Armistice Day -- the day the treaty was signed that ended World War I, the forgotten war. Over 12 million were wounded and over 5 million killed. Most of the wounded and dead were Russian, British and French. We can't even imagine what it was like to see an entire generation of young men lost, often an entire family or village of men, since they signed up and saw active duty together. If, as Tom Brokaw says, WW II saw the "greatest generation", WWI was the "lost generation".

People in Britain still where poppies this week to commemorate Flanders' fields. We don't do that any longer here, or remember the meaning of the poppies. We've become such a nation of weenies that we can't even imagine the bravery of those who fought, were wounded or killed. We lament (as we should) the loss of several thousand, while they lost millions, sometimes with entire famiies or entire villages lost!

Here are two of my favorite poems (or parts of poems):

Grass -- Carl Sandburg
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

For the Fallen -- Laurence Binyon
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.

Remember the lost generation this Armistice Day.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Canadians wear poppies too...I remember Ant used to do it, and I saw people in the airport this weekend wearing them.

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