Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Armistice Day

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is a music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted:
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that 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 will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.

-- Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

The last three World War I veterans living in Britain died this last year: Henry Allingham, Harry Patch and Bill Stone.

I watched the special service to commemorate those who suffered, and those who died, in the Great War. The poppy wreath laid by the Queen was given to her by two Victoria Cross holders, Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry and Trooper Mark Donaldson. I was awed to see two living holders of this rare and usually posthumous award.

I left the house to fetch my DS from kindergarten; we live close to the park, so I heard the church bells tolling, the guns, and the Last Post as I walked up the hill. I was almost in tears, I'm not sure quite why. War is not always pointless or futile. But we do not seem to learn from history.

How Long, O Lord?
by Robert Palmer (killed in action,1916)

How long, O Lord, how long, before the flood
Of crimson-welling carnage shall abate?
From sodden plains in West and East, the blood
Of kindly men steams up in mists of hate,
Polluting Thy clean air; and nations great
In reputation of the arts that bind
The world with hopes of heaven, sink to the state
Of brute barbarians, whose ferocious mind
Gloats o'er the bloody havoc of their kind,
Not knowing love or mercy. Lord, how long
Shall Satan in high places lead the blind
To battle for the passions of the strong?
Oh, touch Thy children's hearts, that they may know
Hate their most hateful, pride their deadliest foe.

Please support the British Legion.

I would like to thank the artist daliscar for his fabulous poppy image.

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