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Remembrance Day
November 11, 2003 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Remembrance Day. Some links to help us remember.
posted by pooligan (25 comments total)

 
Or, Veterans Day, for my American friends.
posted by pooligan at 5:36 AM on November 11, 2003


To the extent that it's "about" WW1, which was at best utterly pointless and at worst about who would get to oppress Africa, I've thought that a National Day of Shame, when we apologize profusely to our victims and promise not to do anything that stupid and evil ever again, would be better than the twisted mix of thanks and patriotism we get on 11/11.

(oh, and memorial day, coming off the civil war in the same way that remembrance day comes off ww1, is the bigger one in the US)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:51 AM on November 11, 2003


and at worst about who would get to oppress Africa

- eh?
posted by johnnyboy at 6:55 AM on November 11, 2003


when we apologize profusely to our victims and promise not to do anything that stupid and evil ever again, would be better than the twisted mix of thanks and patriotism we get on 11/11.

- double eh?, apologise to the germans ?.
posted by johnnyboy at 6:57 AM on November 11, 2003


I don't think you fully appreciate the significance of the date and its particular relevance to the western front and the ending of hostilities that occured on the 11/11/1918.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:00 AM on November 11, 2003


.
posted by zarah at 8:00 AM on November 11, 2003


.
posted by dazed_one at 8:28 AM on November 11, 2003


-eh

AFAIC, WW1 was, at best, a giant cluster-fuck that the Powers That Be basically couldn't be bothered not to have. If you're going to ascribe any realistic goals to most of the nations involved, they'd be related to keeping or getting colonies; ie, oppressing Africa (and east Asia and the Indies and so on).

And apologize to (y)our own war dead, drafted and sent to die for no good reason, executed by their own state as surely as any criminal, callously killed by their own government in a calculation that their side could better afford to lose the human beings.

The war dead aren't poignant or glorious or heroic, any more than victims of other serial killers are poignant or glorious or heroic. They should not be remembered with solemn patriotism, but with the knowledge that they were killed by patriotism. Don't wear little poppies, wear hangman's nooses to remind you of the men you/we killed for our own purposes or lack thereof, and bow (y)our heads in collective shame at the criminal wrongness that was done in (y)our names.

Obviously I find European and Canadian* attitudes toward that war, as if there were something worthwhile in it, to be completely mind-boggling. And ``In Flanders Fields,'' with its exhortation to throw yet more bodies into the grinder, sickens me.

*Americans mostly just ignore it, since it was for us small change compared to the Civil War and WW2.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:28 AM on November 11, 2003


ROUX: Fuckin' A.
posted by majcher at 8:59 AM on November 11, 2003


poignant = keenly distressing to the mind or feelings. bullshit the war dead aren't poignant.

i'll thank you rou_x to not confuse all of us who mourn their war dead with mindless patriots. as a canadian my experience is that most of us are horrified at the senseless loss, and the barbarous conditions under which the soldiers of WWI were forced to deal with on the battlefield. soldiers went without footwear, clothing and food once their standard issue ran out. that was the gov't's fault, we all know that. why should that stop us from bowing our heads and mourning the loss of those young canadian lives...? who are you to assume how and why we are mourning...?

your interpretation of john mccrae's poem is literal and clearly not made with an eye to his personal suffering as he wrote it. do you know anything about him at all...? traditionally canadians and others leave the last verse (unending quarrel etc) off because that's not what we want the legacy of WWI to be. since certain countries insist on continually feeding the war beast the last verse is certainly being heeded, however, the rest of us read his poem as a call to never forget the the terrible price we all pay. you know, lest we forget, we'll do it again and again...
posted by t r a c y at 10:35 AM on November 11, 2003


Also don't confuse Canadian patriotism with the sort you find might find in your own country Rou. Canadians have a quiet but very healthy disrespect for authority and politicians, when we get all flag wavy it's all about the people, the long weekend, our cottages, the vast expanses of sheer natural beauty. OK well sure it might be also to do with the extra equalities (gay marriage etc), better pot laws, and universal health care, but we have no "my country right or wrong" genetic inbreeding type flaw up here, thanks.
posted by zarah at 10:56 AM on November 11, 2003


poignant = keenly distressing to the mind or feelings. bullshit the war dead aren't poignant

Poignant carries a clear connotation of bittersweetness. Getting hit in the face with someone's exploded eyeball isn't poignant, it's just sickening and horrible. A lover mourning at his/her lover's grave is poignant, because the tragedy of the death is mixed up with the goodness of the love. But there's precious little good mixed up in any war, much less WW1.

I've been in Canada on/near Remembrance Day, and I've heard the speeches at the monuments from there and from the UK. None of them said, "This was a horrible ghastly mistake, and we should all be ashamed of what we did to these innocent men, and of what we made them do to others whose only crime was being stolen from their families by their own government and forced to oppose us, as we stole these men from theirs." All of them invoked addleheaded notions of patriotism and service and we-all-owe-them-thanks, not we-killed-them-dead. (not that American speeches at monuments are any better, mind, though the Vietnam wall at least approaches the right sentiment for a war memorial)

your interpretation of john mccrae's poem is literal and clearly not made with an eye to his personal suffering as he wrote it. do you know anything about him at all...?

Yup. Doc serving in WW1, killed, saw all sorts of nasty things. Yet somehow he managed to bring himself not to condemn the war, not to condemn the utter amoral futility of expending human lives for things as addlebrained and pointless as king and country, but to summon up a little last gobbet of hatred at those filthy huns. For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:34 AM on November 11, 2003


we have no "my country right or wrong" genetic inbreeding type flaw up here

That's exactly what I mean by addlebrained notions of king and country, even if I know you're mostly joking. The idea that the citizens of one country could be genetically or even morally superior to those of another, if taken seriously, is truly repellent.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:36 AM on November 11, 2003


Don't confuse the soldiers and their experiences in the trenches with the asinine government policies and stupidity that led to war in the first place.

As one vet said on radio today, there was no naziism on the front line: they were almost all young boys conscripted into war, scared shitless, horrified by what they were doing, and wishing they were out of it. It was not heroic, it was not macho, it was not glamourous, it was not pleasant, it was not good.

We take a minute to remember all needless war and death, all over the world, and to remember that our government leaders are ultimately responsible for the tragedy of ongoing war.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:45 AM on November 11, 2003


I've been in Canada on/near Remembrance Day, and I've heard the speeches at the monuments from there and from the UK. None of them said, "This was a horrible ghastly mistake, and we should all be ashamed of what we did to these innocent men, and of what we made them do to others whose only crime was being stolen from their families by their own government and forced to oppose us, as we stole these men from theirs."
ROU, I grew up in Canada and I can tell you that this was the message that I got from every one of my history professors. It was a catastrophic event caused by the arrogance of great powers, and we were drawn into it because of our blind loyalty to king and country. That sort of sentiment has changed drastically in the decades since, and it's interesting to look at the role of Canada's military in the mid-late 20th century. The sense of duty is still there, but it's a duty to an international system that seeks to reinforce peace rather than justify war -- hence our active role in UN peacekeeping, our participation in Desert Storm, and our subsequent neutrality over Iraq II.
posted by bl1nk at 12:25 PM on November 11, 2003


your ability to empathize with McCrae's state of mind in the midst of a bloody horror is stunningly poor ROU. i'm imagining that you might be especially sensitive to war and all it means because your gov't is up to all sorts of shenanigans presently, but it's simply not necessary to shit all over the dead and those who wish they hadn't died. one can be against war and all the politicians who take us there and still see the poignancy - give us a break on the semantics, the word fits whether you like it or not - in the lives lost.

as for your having attended a canadian remembrance day ceremony i call bullshit once again. some of these are gov't and legion sponsored ceremonies and will of course reflect a certain sentiment, yet somehow in 42 years i've yet to attend or view one that glorifies war. yes they pay tribute to the fallen and call them heroes but we all know they were just regular janes and joes made into sacrifices. (yet some of them did do heroic things. i would give you examples but i have tendonitis and i hazard they'd be lost on you) the majority of us are not at an organized ceremony each nov 11, we're at school, work, or in the mall and when we stop for that minute of silence we are doing so as individuals who understand the reality of wars past and present, not as a "patriotic" mob.

what's the alternative ROU...? insult or ignore the fallen for having been used by their gov't...? some of us find it preferable to remember as well as try and make sure our gov't doesn't do that shit again. so far not so great, but at least our gov't didn't get in line with yours this go 'round.
posted by t r a c y at 12:37 PM on November 11, 2003


you might be especially sensitive to war and all it means because your gov't is up to all sorts of shenanigans presently

Or I might just hate war.

it's simply not necessary to shit all over the dead and those who wish they hadn't died

I'm not "shitting on" people who wished the dead hadn't died. McRae clearly, distinctly, and explicitly calls for others to follow him into death, hurrah.

i've yet to attend or view that glorifies war. yes they pay tribute to the fallen and call them heroes

That glorifies war, at least beyond bounds I think are acceptable. The war dead are not our heroes, they are our victims. They did not die heroically in the service of whatever, we murdered them for our own purposes.

And I don't think any Veteran's or Remembrance Day speech I've seen really acknowledges the relevant nation's complicity and responsibility for their war dead. That says to the dead, you are dead by our hand, and should not have died.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:31 PM on November 11, 2003


For crissakes ROU, go argue with someone who actually disagrees with you.
posted by zarah at 1:43 PM on November 11, 2003


Fair enough. I just wish we did a better job accepting our responsibility, is all, and the things I see at home and abroad around 11/11 every year work against that, to my mind. I'd like, just once, for some retired politician who doesn't care about popularity anymore say something like "And all these people *did* die in vain, achieving nothing worth achieving, because we forced them to and did not stop ourselves."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:37 PM on November 11, 2003


I don't see how World War II could have been avoided, once Hitler got himself into power. He was simply not a man who could be allowed to accomplish his goals. Diplomacy, as far as I know, was not an option: there were no civilized means of stopping him.

While most wars are fought to achieve stupid government goals -- expanding their territory, claiming natural resources, or protecting their economic interests -- some of the wars have been fought necessarily to protect the world from a greater "evil" than war itself.

In other words, war is always bad, but sometimes the alternative is worse.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:07 PM on November 11, 2003


fff: They're talking about World War One. The armistice that ended fighting in that war was signed on November 11th, and is commemorated annually on that date (this date) in several countries.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:39 PM on November 11, 2003


In Canada the Rememberance Day ceremony recalls all those who died in all wars. It was especially true this year, in which we particularly honoured the memory of our soldier peace-keepers.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on November 11, 2003


In my town, the Returned Soldiers' League actually had the sauce to stop a peace rally which was to be held in our Victory Memorial Gardens - a WW1 memorial.

How the devil these codgers could not see that the dead would be more honoured by trying to prevent more from following them into an early grave absolutely stumps me.

Maybe if we ran some warloving politicians up the flagpole pour encourager les autres, we might get some peace.
posted by emf at 7:08 PM on November 11, 2003


White poppies.

The idea is to honour the dead of all wars without supporting the people and institutions who create and feed war.

I didn't have the courage to wear a white poppy this year. I felt that too many people would see it as an insult to the dead. Anyone here have experience of wearing a white poppy? How do we take away the glorification of war from Remembrance Day?
posted by iffley at 12:02 AM on November 12, 2003


The Green Fields of France


Well, how do you do, young Willie McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here dawn by your graveside,
And rest for a while heath the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen,
When you joined the great fallen in nineteen sixteen,
I hope you died well and I hope you died clean,
Or young Willie McBride was it slow and obscene.

Chorus
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the life lowly.
Did they sound the dead march as they lowered you down,
And did the band play the Last Post and chorus,
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest.

2. And did you leave awife or a sweetheart behind,
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined.
Although you died back in nineteen sixteen,
In that faithful heart are you forever nineteen.
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enclosed and forever behind the glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and battered and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame.
Chorus

3. The sun now it shines on the green fields of France
There's a warm summer breeze, it makes the red poppies dance.
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds
There's no gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it's still no-man's-land.
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand,
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
To a whole generation that were butchered and damned.
Chorus

4. Now young Willie McBride I can't help but wonder why
Do all those who lie here know why they died.
And did they believe when they answered the cause
Did they really believe that this war would end wars.
Well the sorrows, the suffering, the glory, the pain
The killing and dying was all done in vain.
For young Willie McBride it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.
posted by johnnyboy at 1:32 AM on November 12, 2003


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