I usually feel conflicted on Remembrance Day – which I suppose is natural, given that it’s about war.
On the one hand it’s hard not to empathize with those who have lost loved ones. On the other, given that war is so often about greed and stupidity (the greed of arms manufacturers, the stupidity of leaders tasked with diplomacy) not principle, it’s hard not to get angry. Yes, the Second World War had to be fought – otherwise the hell of Hitler would have imprisoned us all – but so many wars are not necessary. So many are needless, inconsequential and futile - with only the rich military industrial complex benefitting.
Lives are too often lost in the name of patriotism and freedom when they don’t have to be.
Here’s Wilfred Owen:
On Seeing a Piece of our Heavy Artillery Brought into Action
- Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm,
- Great Gun towering towards Heaven, about to curse;
- Sway steep against them, and for years rehearse
- Huge imprecations like a blasting charm!
- Reach at that Arrogance which needs thy harm,
- And beat it down before its sins grow worse.
- Spend our resentment, cannon,-yea, disburse
- Our gold in shapes of flame, our breaths in storm.
- Yet, for men’s sakes whom thy vast malison
- Must wither innocent of enmity,
- Be not withdrawn, dark arm, the spoilure done,
- Safe to the bosom of our prosperity.
- But when thy spell be cast complete and whole,
- May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul!
For information about touring the Western Front, click here.