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Friday, 11 November 2011

11-11-11. Wearing the Poppy. Armistice Day

11.11.11. It is a fascinating date. Pseudo-biblical scholars are claiming to understand and explain the eschatology of the date, some funny 'shakra' people (whatever that means) are claiming it is the perfect alignment of shakras, faults running beneath the faults and mind-boggling other rubbish, the BBC reports that Egypt has shut down a Pyramid to stop some 'weirdos' carrying out strange ceremonies, and a friend joked about a portal opening up in space and the aliens landing!! LOL.

I prefer to dwell on Armistice day. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month  of 1918 marked the day that an armistice (or a permanent truce) was signed marking the cessation of hostilities and the end of the World War 1 and the deaths of millions of young men in Europe.

Over 20 million died in the war, 9 million of them on the battlefields. Millions of young men, 'the flower of Europe, the flower of the Empire, White, Black, Asian', died in horrible 'unwinnable' battles for reasons many of them did not know and never fully understood. The politicians told them it was to save their nations, so they signed up or were drafted. It is said the battle fields were soaked with blood. Poison gas, tanks, deafening fire-power, chlorine gas, were utilised by the warring nations, many used for the very first time. Artillery pounding was so pervasive it went on for days without a break. Soldiers were deafened, their nerves torn to shreds. They lived in mud-filled trenches, watching compatriots die next to them or die in their arms. Many of those who survived  went home shell-shocked, crippled in body and mind, suffering from what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. They came back with their stiff-upper lips intact and went straight back to any jobs they could find to get on with the jobs of providing for their families.

In 1920, their nations honoured them by instituting a 2 min silence on Armistice day. Armistice day has now been expanded to include the dead of WW11 and those who have died in all the other wars including Iraq and the conflict still raging in Afghanistan.

In the UK, red poppies are sold by the Royal British Legion as a fund-raising tool to provide for soldiers. The charity provides financial, social and emotional support to those who have served or who are currently serving in the British Armed forces, and their dependants.  Numerous nations also follow this practice. Millions buy poppies and wear them, either in respect of the day, to honour both serving soldiers and veterans, or as a respectful commemoration for relatives who have died in battle. No matter what one feels about war, the hatred should not be passed on to soldiers who are ordinary men and women, doing their jobs, following the orders of their superiors who are also carrying out the orders of their political overlords, who are ultimately voted in by the electorate. So if there's a soldier who  has died on a battlefield, the electorate have a duty to honour the soldier's sacrifice as the electorate are the ones voting in the politicians who push forth the war agenda. No soldier starts a war all by himself.

A friend also said he commemorates the day by remembering  millions who died or were trafficked and sold  in the Trans-Saharan slave-trade. It is another beautiful way of remembering the day. Millions of men, women and children died in another war - an economic war between Nations racing towards winning the battle of  trade and industry. It is a war that is still taking place today and breeding modern-day slavery, but that is the topic for another day and another blog postcard.

I also remember the millions who have died in wars in Africa: The Nigeria-Biafra civil war, the Sierra-Leone civil war, the Liberia Civil war, Rwanda's brutal war of ethnic cleansing, Sudan's civil war, the just concluded civil war in Libya, the civil war still raging in the Congo and so many more. Ultimately soldiers fight battles, not because they choose to, but because they are sent to fight battles.

Churchill said in his famous speech: 'Never was so much owed by so many to so few'. Every time a man or woman straps on their armour to venture forth into a battle many of them know they will die in or be injured in, they give up their lives for their countries. Whether you are pro-war, anti-war, a conscientious objector or  frankly just totally apathetic, when your country sends its young men and women into battle, blame the politicians if you must, but respect the soldier.

Honour the soldier. Remember their sacrifice. Pray for their families.


michael said...

A well-written piece!

Noir said...

Thank-you very much Michael. Very kind of you. So, when are you going to resume writing again bro? Hmmmm? LOL