“They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we shall remember them. Lest we forget.”
As always, on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, I observed a minutes silence, in honour of those who died for a cause that they believed in. And, as always, it led me to thinking of the importance of ANZAC day and Armistice day.
I’m a pacifist, as aaaaanyone who’s had anything to do with me knows. I have missed 1 ANZAC day service since I was old enough to understand it, and the sound of the Last Post never fails to bring me to tears. People can’t understand why I react so strongly when I am so vehemently opposed to war. So, I decided to explain.
War is not glorious. It isn’t about honour, or duty, or comraderie. It’s about death, destruction and the loss of lives because of greed and the desire for power/wealth/resources/whatever. Honour, duty, comradery – those are the things that people who have to fight, who know that they might well die, have to believe in. “Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori.”
I don’t see ANZAC Day or Armistice Day as a day to say “we won the war, so it’s all good”. I see it as a day to mourn the fact that so many – so damn many – people were killed because of human greed. I see it as a day when we should look at the photographs, the faces of all those people, and realise that, irrespective of what side they were on, they were people, who had hopes, dreams, families and lives that were brutally cut short, no matter what age they were. These days are the days when, more than ever, we should pause and think about this senseless loss of life, and let the loss of so many people make us stop and say “No war is worth this, there has to be a better way.”
I abhor the fact that both of these days have become less and less about commemorating the dead, and more and more about using it as a platform from which to espouse pro-war sentiments. Which, to me, is the biggest possible insult to the people who fought and died in WWI and WWII: honour their memory by striving to make sure that such horrors don’t happen again.