Monday, November 10, 2008

Armistice Day 2008

I am old fashioned, a certified old codger. I still like the sound of Armistice Day instead of Veterans Day because it ties the remembrance to a specific day, a specific event - the signing of the armistice on 11 November 1918, the end of the Great War.

This does not mean I don't rejoice to include all Veterans of all wars in our remembrance. I do.

I just like the now-quaint older name.

And I love remembering how my father told me of the old man who went down the street in Kingsburg, California, banging two pipes together to announce the end of that war. Dad's tenth birthday was just the month before.

I bring you poetry from the Great War.

The Effort

'The effect of our bombardment was terrific. One man told me he had
never seen so many dead before.'--War Correspondent.
'HE'D never seen so many dead before.'
They sprawled in yellow daylight while he swore
And gasped and lugged his everlasting load
Of bombs along what once had been a road.
'How peaceful are the dead.'
Who put that silly gag in some one's head?
'He'd never seen so many dead before.'
The lilting words danced up and down his brain,
While corpses jumped and capered in the rain.
No, no; he wouldn't count them any more...
The dead have done with pain:
They've choked; they can't come back to life again.
When Dick was killed last week he looked like that,
Flapping along the fire-step like a fish,
After the blazing crump had knocked him flat...
'How many dead? As many as ever you wish.
Don't count 'em; they're too many.
Who'll buy my nice fresh corpses, two a penny?'
--Siegfried Sassoon

Cramped in that Funnelled Hole

Cramped in that funnelled hole, they watched the dawn
Open a jagged rim around; a yawn
Of death's jaws, which had all but swallowed them
Stuck in the bottom of his throat of phlegm.
They were in one of many mouths of Hell
Not seen of seers in visions, only felt
As teeth of traps; when bones and the dead are smelt
Under the mud where long ago they fell
Mixed with the sour sharp odour of the shell.
--Wilfred Owen


They ask me where I've been,
And what I've done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn't I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands...
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name.
--Wilfred Gibson

I think that when our troops come home, at last, from Iraq, I may walk down my street banging pipes together.

What a wonderful thing that would be.

I want to bang pipes.

In the meantime, may we treat our vets well. We owe them.
--the BB


Ellie Finlay said...

We owe them.

I so agree, Paul. I so agree.

Earthbound Spirit said...

I'll bang pipes with you, Paul. Our Veteran's Day service this past Sunday was very moving. Two veterans from the congregation offered reflections, and people spoke the names of relatives who were/are veterans. We owe them all.