I find myself reflecting this evening, upon the strangest of Remembrance Sunday’s.
As per usual, I’ve been mulling over the particular loss of a Kingsman I once knew. And, as per usual I was lamenting his death, and the injustice of it.
Many of us have been prevented from attending services across the nation, but many soldiers, former and serving, have made their way to our cenotaphs to quietly reflect, give thanks, and to communicate once more with those who once stood beside them. This is a good thing.
I decided though that for the first time in a long time, I wouldn’t go. I wanted to spend the day with my family instead. and I’m glad that I did, it’s been a wonderful day full of laughter and fun.
I did, however, look up Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum est’, during a few emotional moments in the afternoon. It’s a strikingly painful poem, which can leave the reader in no doubt as to what men like Owen went through. During Owen’s time chemical warfare had taken on new horrific qualities, in terms effect of and also delivery -the gas shells which drop soft behind take on a frightening quality when described by Owen.
The images Owen paints within our minds of the soldier staggering and dying within a murky green hell is frightful, and rightly so. The mind of the reader is also painted in red frothing blood as Owen tells us of the soldiers ghastly death. These are the realities of warfare, and the realities which Owen so passionately warns us not to glorify with the old lie.
What a stark scene to contrast to my idyllic afternoon amongst family!
And yet, whilst I’m a firm believer in Remembrance, as I grow older I feel more inclined to take the opportunity to also honour the fallen by enjoying what they gave all to provide me with – my freedom, peace, security, and the opportunity to grow far older than many of those young men, who still lie in the battlefields row upon row.
For many of us veterans, this is always liable to be a difficult time of year, it comes, like much else, with the shilling. Though there are another 364 days whereupon many of us will also remember, often unwillingly and without respite from intrusions of one kind or another.
It’s for those such as this that we must keep fighting.
We must, of course, always remember the dead. But we must also not allow the living to be forgotten.
We must also not forget to live!
Surely this must the greatest way of honouring the fallen? Not to waste what they have given?
Owen know full well what the old lie was.
I can’t help but wonder if he had any idea how much the old lie would also affect, over 100 years later, so many of those who returned?