A faux Remembrance Day

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Remembrance Day is to end all wars. Hard to take Stephen Harper and his poppy seriously when he keeps sending kids to die in Afghanistan, Paul Martin’s sop to the Americans. Hard to take Remembrance Day seriously when we have a war budget—$20 billion over the next 15 years. That buys a lot of infrastructure and health care and who pray tell is going to attack Canada?We’ll never be a serious warrior culture.We were an excellent peacekeeping brigade. We could have been in in Haiti rather than that historical trap

Eamonn McCann recently wrote:

And it should be remembered, too, that the vast majority of the fallen are Afghanis. But pride? Ought they not rather be remembered with anger? Just as we should recall the unnumbered dead of World War One not with reverence but with rage? Then, as now, young people fresh-faced from school were flung to their death like fistfuls of chaff for no cause that any working-class person had an interest in. The millions died so a tiny elite could rule the waves and rob the world.

The purpose of the poppy is to sentimentalize this slaughter, to conceal a crime against humanity under a cloak of soft emotion.

Wilfrid Owen’s reminder:

DULCE ET DECORUM EST1

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares2 we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest3 began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas!7 Gas! Quick, boys! –  An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets8 just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime9 . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud12
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest13
To children ardent14 for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

8 October 1917 – March, 1918

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