LOOKING BACK ON THE CENTENARY REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY
Yesterday, as a report in the MSM has it, ‘the Nation’ came together in a ‘poignant and dignified endeavour’. Many of us have attended the wreath-laying ceremonies and the Remembrance Services in their constituencies, their villages, towns and cities. Many will have watched the traditional serve at the Cenotaph and later in Westminster Abbey. Many of you have written to us about this, and we are publishing their comments and photos in this issue.
While I found the march of the ordinary people past the Cenotaph very moving, as I was moved by certain aspects of the wreath-laying ceremony itself, there were some details which rang a very false note for me and for others, and that continues in today’s MSM. In an endeavour – surely praiseworthy at it’s inception four years ago – to ‘include’ everybody, we’re told about whom else we must include in our Remembrance of the fallen. That started when, at the Cenotaph, ‘representatives of all faiths’ came streaming out for their wreath-laying. Excuse me, but I have not come across of instances of imams burying the fallen at the battle lines in Flanders Fields. You can, I am sure, add your observations to that list.
Meanwhile, across the Channel, we saw an illuminating example of why we here and they over there are truly different, culturally. In Paris, we had ‘World Leaders’ celebrating “Peace”, garnished with subliminal threats from the wannabe-Napoleon, M Macron. That remembrance ‘service’ looked more like a good opportunity to celebrate military might combined with grandstanding by politicians making nice-sounding speeches, with ‘peace and reconciliation’ thrown in. It could have taken place at any day of the year, and let’s not even mention the photo of Ms Merkel and M Macron giving each other kisses. Moreover, while we remembered the dead, they celebrated ‘peace’ with a military parade. I’m sure you’ll note the difference …
Here, we did come together in Remembrance of the fallen, war was not glorified. Our politicians did not make speeches, there was no grandstanding, although the Labour leader gave us an example of ‘lowstanding’ when he turned up an a grey raincoat at the Cenotaph.
So – why “Flanders Fields”?
Because for me and e.g. for Brian Cooke who read it in his outstanding video we published yesterday and for our reader Alec Yates who posted the text in the comments, this is an important war poem. However, it seems to have been made to vanish from the collective remembrance culture – a culture where celebrating all others has taken over and where the remembrance of the common soldiers, those who fought and died, those who came back maimed, has apparently been swamped.
Here it is to read again – it is short:
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae
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.
I believe the reason for this omission lies in the last verse. I believe that our cultural elite, soaked in anti-militaristic and ahistorical mawkish sentiment, have discarded this verse because ‘foe’, in their minds, has to stand for ‘Germans’. Looked at from their enlightened point of view of one hundred years later, one cannot possibly regard them as foe today because that would be racist … and, as we saw yesterday, it’s now all about reconciliation – as if we were still facing each other across the barbed wires in Flanders for these past 100 years.
Sadly, our cultural elite today has forgotten the years ‘in between’, the 21 years which culminated in an even more murderous war. They forget the rise of totalitarianism in the form of the deadly, murderous Soviet Union and the 3rd Reich, the consequences of which are still influencing our lives one hundred years on.
But the foe of which John McCrae wrote were not the people in the opposite trenches. The foe were tyranny and dictatorship, such as the Kaiserreich against which this war was fought. Our soldiers knew this, as some of their voices in Peter Jackson’s film “They Shall Not Grow Old”, broadcast on the BBC last night, made explicit.
We can perhaps understand why many members of the then establishment ended up as appeasers – and paid the price 21 years later – when we read:
“UK wartime Prime Minister Herbert Asquith lost a son, while future Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law lost two. Anthony Eden lost two brothers, another brother of his was terribly wounded, and an uncle was captured.” (BBC in 2014)
Have we still not learned that ‘the foe’ is not a race but a tyrannical ideology? Have we still not learned that appeasement does not work? Have we become so brainwashed, so soaked in ‘feminism’, that we regard any fighting as abhorrent and never mind that there are good reasons to fight? Survival, for example? Our children and young people seem to have been taught that it’s better to get raped peacefully than to stand up and fight …
Yes, we have indeed dropped the torch!
Yes, we have indeed broken faith with those who died and lie in Flanders Fields!
No ‘celebration of remembrance’ can hide this.
And yes, we will have to bear the consequences in the years to come, just as our parents and grandparents had to bear the consequences 21 years after the guns of WWI fell silent, after they had dropped the torch and broken faith.
But that doesn’t fit into our contemporary Remembrance Culture – and that’s why the last verse of John McCrae’s poem needed to be deleted from our collective memories.