Remembrance Day

Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day coincide this year, as they did in 2007.

While Armistice Day, the anniversary commemorating the end of World War 1 falls on 11 November, Remembrance Sunday is on the second Sunday in November.

I’ve written various posts before on roughseas.

Today, I thought I would write about current wars. Who is still killing who?

On Remembrance Day, when we remember people who died for their country or what they believed was a valiant cause, why are we still killing each other?

Parliament House, Gibraltar, with the Royal British Legion and the Royal Gib Reg

According to one web site there are currently 60 countries with wars or conflicts. Conflicts? Wiki describes a war ongoing military conflict as more than 1000 deaths a year.

Numbers, statistics, always the same.

Let’s look at a couple of totally unrelated ‘conflicts’.

1) Afghanistan. More than three mill deaths. I wrote about Afghanistan a few years ago. What on earth are boring old Western so-called super powers doing messing around there? For more than 30 years (let alone in previous years).

2) Western Saharan conflict between Morocco and Western Sahara – between 14000 – 21000 deaths since 1973.

3) Nearer to home, Northern Ireland. Since the sixties, three and a half thousand people have been killed, of whom half were civilians. Northern Ireland doesn’t make the Wiki list because it didn’t achieve 1,000 deaths a year. I would think that residents of Northern Ireland, and serving members of armed forces would consider it to have been a conflict or a war.

When I worked in the civil service in London, the noticeboard had various forms of alert. Because the blunt truth was, we could have been blown up. Government buildings were targets and when the situation was tense, we went onto red alert.

While Northern Ireland suffered the brunt of the IRA attacks, forays into mainland Britain made their mark on all of us.

No-one living through the seventies can forget the M62 coach bomb, and the Guildford and Birmingham pub bombings, a total of 38 people killed. And later the Brighton hotel bombing in 1984 when five people were killed.

Reading Wiki, I was surprised to see that the 1974 coach bombing could be heard several miles away.

Lying in bed aged 14, I was woken up by a rather loud, reverberatory bang. On hearing the news the next day, it had obviously been the bomb. And we were more than ‘several miles’ away from it. I dread to think what it was like for anyone on board the bus.

I read recently that terrorist attacks are focused on public transport (London, and Madrid), public places (the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester) because it disrupts people’s lives. We have to use public transport and we have to go shopping. And the fear of the unknown threat is a powerful weapon.

I find all war abhorrent. And killing civilians, and describing their deaths as ‘collateral damage’ is even worse. Surely most of us want a peaceful life and to be able to go about that without fear.

But for many people in 60 countries there are continual killings.

It’s important to commemorate the bravery of people who have died in previous wars. But while ever we continue to kill each other, one questions whether they died in vain?

Remembrance Day shouldn’t just be about looking back to the past and honouring our dead. To truly honour them, we should stop our current wars, invasions, occupations. It won’t happen of course. But apathy doesn’t get us anywhere either.

The Wiki list, the date refers to the start of the conflict/war:

1964 Colombia
1978 Afghanistan
1991 Somali Civil War
2001 Al Queda insurgency in Yemen
2004 War in North West Pakistan
2006 Mexican Drug War
2009 Sudanese nomadic conflicts
2011 Sudan internal conflict
2011 Syrian civil war
2011 Iraqui insurgency (post US withdrawal)
2011 Libyan factional fighting
2012 Northern Mali conflict

I’ll end with an Owen poem, as ever, because to me, he is the war poet par excellence. Read it, and if you don’t shiver, you have no feeling.

Disabled by Wilfred Owen

He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,-
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls’ waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.
All of them touch him like some queer disease.

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
He’s lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he’d drunk a peg,
He thought he’d better join. – He wonders why.
Someone had said he’d look a god in kilts,
That’s why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
He asked to join. He didn’t have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years.

Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,
And Austria’s, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet. He drought of jewelled hills
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then enquired about his soul.

Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come
And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in gibraltar, photography, poetry, War and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Remembrance Day

  1. Vicky says:

    That poem :-(…….the echoes of so many cut down in their prime……so sad 😦

    I remember the Birmingham pub bombings, I had worked in the city, knew the pubs, and feared for friends, who I knew may have been drinking in them that night.

    So many wars, so many families torn apart, yes why are we still killing each other! 😦

    Excellent photo, you were in a good vantage point to capture that without heads blocking the view πŸ™‚


    • Vicky says:

      theres a ;-( up there that should be a 😦 will you change it for me please.


    • I find it strange that I like war poetry given that it is about death and destruction, but I suppose it is the imagery and the powerful language that reaches out to touch. I don’t like the ones that glorify war, which is why my favourite is probably Dulce et Decorum Est (it’s over on roughseas under war poetry).

      Of course, I never thought about your proximity to Birmingham when I was writing that. Selfish me, was busy remembering that strange boom from Hartshead Moor that killed eleven people at the time on the M62 and one person died later from injuries.

      I think the value of Rememberance Sunday/Armistice Day has to be in learning from our past which is why when I write about it, I like to choose something for thought.

      I couldn’t believe there was a spot dead opposite! I was milling around at the edges and thought I would have a wander nearer the entrance to Parliament House (always helps being tall as well) and the spot appeared. πŸ™‚ I’ve got some others so I might post them on roughseas this evening and write about the Gib ceremonies. I’ll probably add Dulce et Decorum Est as well ! The main ceremony at noon was a too many heads in the way session though 😦


  2. Apparently I have feeling, as I am shivering with tears filling my eyes. It is sobering yet beautiful at the same time in an odd way. I thought i might not finish it but i continued on.
    And did finish it by reading,,,.
    ‘Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes
    Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
    How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come
    And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?”
    And this is where my composure stopped.I lost it then. I could no longer retain the tears just to my eyes.

    Too much blood shed for mere conflicts too much heartache left and brought back home
    “Where have all the young men gone.. to soldiers everyone..”

    There has to be something else, a better way.


    • I’ve read and re-read that poem so many times while I have been drafting this post, and each time, I shiver all over again.

      From an analytical point of view, I think it is good poetry. From an emotive one, it is extremely strong. I shiver most of the way through it, but like you, the last stanza and the feeling of defeat and depression, loss of hope, loss of will to live, a wasted life, is so very tragic.

      And on a more cheerful note, I’ve posted my other favourite over on roughseas πŸ˜€


      • Day after still resonates within myself. Its a beautiful piece as I said, grandly tugging on the heart strings as any well deserved poem should do..
        Its the last verse which says in such horrific ways that we as humans cause damage and despair to one another over and over. with no regard to life and what it really means.
        We are supposed to be the evolved species? I beg to differ,

        Thanks again roughseas I enjoy chatting with you ~ BB


        • Thank you BB. We seem to have many similar interests, whether music, poetry or important life views and I enjoy the chats too – as I do with many other bloggers on here and on roughseas.

          Your comment about evolution is very succinct and accurate. Where is our compassion?


          • My hopes had been that we would all as a world of combined voices find that compassion, but I am still sadly waiting.
            How about you?
            Its really rhetorical as I suspect you feel similar.


          • While I think a lot of our world is full of greed and hatred, I do take some comfort in some shared views that I find on here. And hopefully some of those voices are not just full of rhetoric, but that we try and put some of our principles into action, however small that may be. In my case it’s tiny. I give to a homeless person. I rescue a dog. I try and save energy by not using a vehicle or unnecessary power. I vote for a government that wants to help the less well off. Etc.


  3. EllaDee says:

    I wonder if “Lest we Forget” is enough anymore… The statistics and information I have been reading on your posts, and others’ makes me think many of us are remembering the stories picked out for ‘history’ but not the whole because they stagger me. And yes, still it goes on with yet more justification and sanction of necessity… to me that makes a mockery of Lest we forget. I like the Owen poetry, I’ve never read it before. it’s a nice juxtaposition with the neat commemoration going in in the photo. Postcard Cafe posted a strong piece of street art with Dulce et Decorum Est…


    • I think you are absolutely correct that we are fed selective snippets of history. And even current news – eg WMD is the obvious one that comes to mind. It takes considerable time to dig around, look from a wider perspective and interpret the results more objectively. Easy for me to say, I spent three full years of my life doing just that – history isn’t just learning facts about the dusty old past, the important aspect is analysing it. But even so, where to start?

      I think with age comes a different approach too, which is why I like to add something to my Remembrance Day post that isn’t just the basic history off WW1 or 2, eg that more people have been killed in a) Vietnam or b) Afghanistan than have ever died in wars in America. Similarly how many Russians died in the two world wars, and how significant invasions of Russia are in any wars. For Brits who tend to concentrate on the European aspects, how much fighting and death went on in the Pacific. And nearer to you, the contribution of all the commonwealth countries in wars that basically weren’t theirs.


I appreciate any comments you leave, so long as they are relatively polite. And thanks for reading.

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