Jump to content
Note to New Members ×

Lest we forget

Neil Gendzwill

Recommended Posts

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.

Take a moment this day and thank a veteran, if only in your heart.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... in New Zealand there are only three days when everything is shut. Xmas Day. Good Friday. And Anzac Day (Remembrance Day) until midday. As it should be.

I'm at work today in Alberta, Canada, and I cannot believe that it's not a stat holiday. Totally disrespectful.

Rant over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really, it's not a stat? It is here in Saskatchewan. I'm at work today, but I'm the only one. My daughter's touring around the various legion halls today with her Irish dance friends, entertaining the vets and my sister's big band is playing at the downtown legion. Think I'll join them and raise a glass later on today.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Until this fall, the American Revolution was something I read about in books. I had a chance to visit Boston and take the Freedom Walk. Near Bunker Hill is a park with a memorial to the men who died at that battle. As I stood there reading those names of men who believed in Democracy and Freedom so much and had a dream of a country that did not even yet exist...that they would stand against the world's strongest army and give their lives...I was humbled.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The impact of Remembrance Day is dulled a little in the the Sates by the bigger holiday of Memorial Day. I guess this reflects the fewer casualties the US suffered in WW1, 116,000 as opposed to WW11, 300,00. The British Empire (as it was at the time) suffered 940,000 in WW1 as opposed to 320,00 in WW11. You have to see the WW1 cemetaries in Europe to appreciate the concentrated scale of the carnage. Germany, Austria and Hungry lost another 3 million.

Any further comment I make would be political, so I won't.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whenever I think of WW1, this poem comes to mind: (sorry for the clumsy footnotes)


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 hoots4

Of tired, outstripped5 Five-Nines6 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 panes10 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,11 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.15

8 October 1917 - March, 1918

1 DULCE ET DECORUM EST - the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean "It is sweet and right." The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country

2 rockets which were sent up to burn with a brilliant glare to light up men and other targets in the area between the front lines (See illustration, page 118 of Out in the Dark.)

3 a camp away from the front line where exhausted soldiers might rest for a few days, or longer

4 the noise made by the shells rushing through the air

5 outpaced, the soldiers have struggled beyond the reach of these shells which are now falling behind them as they struggle away from the scene of battle

6 Five-Nines - 5.9 calibre explosive shells

7 poison gas. From the symptoms it would appear to be chlorine or phosgene gas. The filling of the lungs with fluid had the same effects as when a person drowned

8 the early name for gas masks

9 a white chalky substance which can burn live tissue

10 the glass in the eyepieces of the gas masks

11 Owen probably meant flickering out like a candle or gurgling like water draining down a gutter, referring to the sounds in the throat of the choking man, or it might be a sound partly like stuttering and partly like gurgling

12 normally the regurgitated grass that cows chew; here a similar looking material was issuing from the soldier's mouth

13 high zest - idealistic enthusiasm, keenly believing in the rightness of the idea

14 keen

15 see note 1


To see the source of Wilfred Owen's ideas about muddy conditions see his letter in Wilfred Owen's First Encounter with the Reality of War.

Notes copyright © David Roberts and Saxon Books 1998 and 1999. Free use by students for personal use only. The poem appears in both Out in the Dark and Minds at War, but the notes are only found in Out in the Dark.

Copyright © 1999 Saxon Books.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...