A Bleak Remembrance

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 November pierces with its bleak remembrance
Of all the bitterness and waste of war.
Our silence tries but fails to make a semblance
Of that lost peace they thought worth fighting for.
Our silence seethes instead with wraiths and whispers,
And all the restless rumour of new wars,
The shells are falling all around our vespers,
No moment is unscarred, there is no pause,
In every instant bloodied innocence
Falls to the weary earth, and whilst we stand
Quiescence ends again in acquiescence,
And Abel’s blood still cries in every land
One silence only might redeem that blood
Only the silence of a dying God.
~Malcolm Guite “Silence”
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So, when old hopes that earth was bettering slowly
Were dead and damned, there sounded ‘War is done!’
One morrow. Said the bereft, and meek, and lowly,
‘Will men some day be given to grace? yea, wholly,

And in good sooth, as our dreams used to run?’

 

Calm fell. From Heaven distilled a clemency;
There was peace on earth, and silence in the sky;
Some could, some could not, shake off misery:
~Thomas Hardy from “And There Was a Great Calm” (On the Signing of the Armistice, 11 Nov. 1918)
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When you go home tell them of us and say –
“For your tomorrow we gave our today”
~John Maxwell Edmonds from “The Kohima Epitaph” 
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I’m unsure why the United States does not call November 11 Remembrance Day as the Commonwealth nations did 99 years ago at the Armistice. This is a day that demands much more than the more passive name Veterans’ Day represents.

This day calls all citizens who appreciate their freedoms to stop what they are doing and disrupt the routine rhythm of their lives. We are to remember in humble thankfulness the generations of military veterans who sacrificed time, resources, sometimes health and well being, and too often their lives in answering the call to defend their countries.

Remembrance means
~never forgetting what it costs to defend freedom.
~acknowledging the millions who have given of themselves and continue to do so on our behalf.
~never ceasing to care.
~a commitment to provide resources needed for the military to remain strong and supported.
~unending prayers for safe return home to family.
~we hold these men and women close in our hearts, always teaching the next generation about the sacrifices they made.

Most of all,
it means being willing ourselves to become the sacrifice when called.

 

 

oakleaf11173

4 thoughts on “A Bleak Remembrance

  1. Thank you for your thoughts here. My own conviction is that we need to remain connected to our past and that the more we are able to do so as one common humanity the better it will be for us all. As a young man I spent six years teaching history in Zambia in central Africa with colleagues from all over the world, including the United States. Even then I was aware that the men in each of the three previous generations in my family had all made the journey into manhood through the military. I was the first to be able to make that journey by means of an act of peace, as a teacher on a continent on which my great grandfather lost his life in a colonial war leaving a young family behind him.
    I know that the teaching of history will always be a contentious matter but when I read your reflection on Remembrance I know that an act of peacemaking across the oceans has taken place. Surely it is no accident that in the Jewish Passover and the Christian Eucharist the central action is one of remembering and also that this action unites the whole community of faith, one that St Paul teaches has neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free.
    When will we learn that truth?

    Liked by 1 person

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