Every year we have this odd ritual. We allow old men in silly outfits wearing tinkly bits of metal on their chests to parade up and down the streets. To most of the children who see them it is all very odd, and each year it becomes odder to them. Why is this so? It is because we have failed in a promise. Failed to learn a lesson. Failed to pass that memory on to our mystified children who can no longer grasp what all the fuss is about. The air you breathe is a result of the pain and suffering so many men endured so that you could continue to do so….to live in a social fabric that allows you light, breath, air and the ability to speak your mind. What did they give up? Let us remember…

   In a far off field some time ago lay thousands of men. They came from Topeka and Car Cross and Winnipeg. They came from farms in Iowa and the sheep farms of Australia. They came from towns and villages so small that very few know they exist. They speak all languages and dialects and come from the great ethnic pool the world offers. They left mothers, fathers, wives, siblings, children and the land they loved behind. It wasn’t for adventure or glory that they came, though some may have hoped for it. They came because our way of life was threatened and we needed them badly to block the storm and restore peace to our lives.

   There can be no pretty words here. Nothing to inspire or evoke greatness. The lucky ones are already dead. Those who yet live lay in the muck with the stink of stale blood, rotting flesh, feces and urine mixed with cordite as their sacramental incense. They lay with bodies torn apart and in great torment for hours and sometimes days. Sometimes they do it in stunned stupor from the shock of the injuries. Sometimes they just scream their lives away in utter agony. They suffer for every breath you and I take for granted. Observe the glory of war, for the only glory here is in surviving it.

   They do so without the comfort of family or friends. There will be no one to hold them as they breathe their last gulp of air. There is no one to give them their Last Rites or for them to spend their final moments with. Many of them are so young they are little more than children. Many of them do not understand why they are dying because the pain has taken away their reason. But we know why. We sent them to do it because it was so very important if we were to continue the freedoms we now enjoy. We did not send them for land or power or money. They went because they wanted their families safe from the coming storm.

   The battlefields roll past: The Somme, Ypres, Spain, Maginot, Dieppe, Monte Casino, the Battle of Britain, Tunisia, Hochwald, the Scheldt, Berlin, the 54th Parallel, the Inchon Valley, Da Nang. Now there is the Middle East and the ruthless terrorists that threaten us. The toll is truly terrible. Both sides pay a horrible price for fanatical visions.

   The glimmer of light finally fades from those young eyes in such a far off place. We have lost a brilliant doctor, a great poet, a wonderful writer, a great artist, a cure for cancer. We have lost son, brother, cousin, father and lover. We have lost a piece of beauty in our lives. The toll continues to mount even among those that return. They will never be the same again. The memories of what they have witnessed will haunt them forever. Some will be without limbs, others without parts of their minds.

   So what are we to do? We owe it to these men to give them all our support and love for what they gave up. We promised that we would remember them and we are forgetting that. We promised to remember so that none of our children would have to go through what they did. There is no such thing as a “good war”. All of them result in pain and suffering and that is what these men were trying to teach us. Remember that!

   On November 11th at 11 o’clock in 1918, the First Great War ended and the guns fell silent.  We PROMISED we would remember ALL SOLDIERS on each day of the year at that time. On May 18th of 1945 the Second Great War ended.  In 1954 The Korean War ended.  In 1972 The Viet Nam war ended.  Now we are fighting again.  Why aren't we learning the lesson?  We promised that we would remember the sacrifices that all soldiers make. They held up their end of the bargain. Where the hell is your promise?


Tears for the fallen.