AnElephant Never Forgets

Today, November 11th, is Remembrance Day in many parts of the world, including Great Britain, the Commonwealth, France, Belgium, Germany and Poland.
In the USA it is known as Veterans Day.

On this day, the anniversary of the official end of World War I, we remember all members of the Armed Forces who have died in the line of duty.

It need hardly be said that there are far too many.

Charles Hamilton Sorley, from Aberdeen, Scotland, died at Loos, Northern France, in 1915 aged 20.
He wrote:
When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you’ll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto,
“yet many a better one has died before.”
Then, scanning all the overcrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all this for evermore.

There were an estimated 16 million deaths in World War I.
We become immune to big numbers nowadays, so pause for a moment and think how many people today live in your town, your state, your country.
There are 5 million people in Scotland.
There were an estimated 16 million deaths in World War I.

Wilfred Owen, from Shropshire, England, died aged 25 in the last week of the war.
He wrote:
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons*.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


So we remember.
But do we learn?

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13 Responses to AnElephant Never Forgets

  1. Dilip says:

    Beautiful words very touching. Yes Wars do take a heavy toll.
    My salute to the unknown soldier!


  2. LuAnn says:

    A passionate thoughtful tribute to fallen heroes. Thanks for this post.


  3. mixedupmeme says:

    There are so many wonderful tributes to the fallen and to those who have served. And these beautiful words and poetry should be written. They make us weep and they make us proud. They make us determined and hopefully that such horrible things will not happen again. We keep trying not to forget.

    I wonder if showing the guts and gore and writing of the mutilated remains might jerk our memory better.


  4. pennycoho says:

    Beautifully written, very very moving! Thank you! Penny 🙂


  5. Clanmother says:

    We Canadians are wearing our poppies. My son is a bagpiper in the Irish Fusiliers so he will be in the parade and then to the Legions to visit the Vets. My father was a WWII vet so this is a special day for us. I love Wilfred Owen! Canadians have “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrea, who sadly was also was one of the fallen. Here’s the last verse:

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.


  6. Alastair says:

    A very good and moving tribute.


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