Marja-Leena Rathje
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remember peace


It's Remembrance Day here, and the weather matches the sad occasion. Each year on this day, I reluctantly acknowledge this day, understanding the sacrifices made by so many soldiers in wars. I am sad for the millions of innocent lives lost and hurt by greedy leaders who themselves are never armed and harmed. Yet each year, I am more and more angry that history repeats itself and there seems to be no learning the lesson of peace, of non-violent communication.

Please visit last year's post, my favourite of several written over a few years of blogging. I love the comments.

Marja-Leena | 11/11/2008 | 7 comments
themes: Canada and BC, Current Events


Bravo. Somehow the picture of the floating leaf reflects the melancholy of the day.

That dripping-wet leaf is a poignant image -- and fitting for the day. I agree: somehow the melancholy weather DOES match the occasion.

Joe, thanks, I'm glad that feeling came across in the image.

Hi Bee, welcome! Thanks for visiting and commenting. Glad you like.

Because 2008 is the ninetieth anniversary of the Armistice the BBC (especially the TV channel BBC4) has produced about two dozen programmes on the subject. The best was a seven-part series, summarising the war, with narration by Judi Dench and lots of stars (Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, etc) providing voice-overs.

Despite the by-now enormous familiarity it is impossible to go over the facts without choking up. Wilfred Owen killed only two or three days before November 11 on a suicidal attempt to cross a canal in the face of entrenched machine guns. The sinking feeling when the narrator says "Writing home from a trench near the Somme Private X had these words for his mother..." and you know how the sentence is going to end. The poignancy of Last Post blown at the Menin Gate, still a daily tradition after all these years.

And there is the grim reminder of the ties of Empire when one hears about Canadians, Australians and all those others dead so far from home.

Perhaps one can just about bear the deaths of service people in WW2 because there was an identifiable reason. But time after time with WW1 the abiding impression is one of futility.

Barrett, we've had a lot of similar programs here this week, as well as throughout the year. I appreciate your words on this. My husband and I noticed some veterans constantly watch these, but others, like my father, father-in-law and uncles never would. We don't. We admit that we've have lost patience with them after all these years. Why are pacifism, understanding, negotiation, open non-violent communication not being given equal, no, greater voice? War does not solve problems but only breeds more war, as you've observed with WW I causing WW II as one example. The Middle East is another glaring one.

I agree that excessive interest in these programmes could be regarded as suspect. But the problem is differentiating between the past and the future. The dead deserve our pity and the living deserve our best efforts in avoiding war. One of the BBC4 programmes was about conscientious objectors, people who showed a form of bravery almost as demanding as that shown by frontline soldiers. However, the presenter (Ian Hislop, editor of our satirical magazine "Private Eye") sought to be intellectually honest and even-handed and was able to point out that this stance was not without its moral dilemmas.

On the subject of veterans watching war programs on TV I suppose I ought to make my own position clear since I am technically a veteran. During two years national service with the RAF in Singapore I was found to be incurable at humid sea level and was despatched to a hospital up in the Cameron Highlands in what is now Malaysia. At the time this was still a war zone and the patients travelling in the armed convoy were equipped with loaded rifles. Or rather the soldier patients were; arming the RAF was thought to be more dangerous than anything the terrorists could throw at us. I think that makes me a non-combative combatant.

And what was I going to be treated for up there in the hills? Persistent athlete's foot!

Barrett, Yes to: The dead deserve our pity and the living deserve our best efforts in avoiding war! Good to hear about the program about conscientious objectors. And thanks for the story of your service years, too bad about the athlete's foot though. :)