Saturday, November 11, 2006


Three years ago today, I was in the car as the Last Post rang out, on my way to the hospital. I wasn't having contractions, but my amniotic fluid was leaking, and I was under strict instructions from my sister-in-law (who didn't want to share her November 11 birthday) not to give birth until after midnight. (I complied.)

I love birth stories, I love thinking of them as our war stories, but today I am reminded of the fact that 88 years ago an entire generation of men came home and never spoke of what they had seen and done, over there in the trenches.

For them, and for those who did not come home:

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, --
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

Wilfred Owen, "Anthem for Doomed Youth"


Mother Bumper said...

An entire generation of men sacrificed for us and for that we should never forget. Thank you for saying it so well bubandpie.

Marian said...

So many, many brave men died to purchase freedom for the world. Sometimes I really wonder if our leaders, soldiers and general population of today would be able to carry out the D-day invasion. I think perhaps we would be speaking Japanese or German, and not so freely... We owe so much to these men and the families they left behind.

Andrea said...

Both my grandfathers fought on the front line of the second world war. One was sent home with several medals and full of shrapnel.

Neither of them ever spoke to their grandchildren about their experiences, but the fault lines of it can be traced through both families. Those men and their families paid a sacrifice that is not often spoken of, because it didn't end when they came home. For them and their families, it never ended. Not really.

But I am so grateful for what they did.

Beck said...

Beautiful post. My kids went to the local Remembrance Day ceremony this morning with my dad, and came back to report gleefully "We ate sandwiches and donuts with old guys!" Indeed.

bubandpie said...

My maternal grandfather was in the war, and never spoke of it. What amazes me is how many men returned and lived healthy, generous, loving lives. What scars they bore were theirs alone.

A woman from my church had an article in the newspaper this morning explaining how, as a German immigrant (she was 8 when the war began), she makes a point of going up to veterans on Remembrance Day to personally thank them for liberating her country, and her.

Terri B. said...

What a wonderful tribute you've written. I remember this poem from my early university days. It still moves me to tears.

nomotherearth said...

I always thought of the war in abstract terms until grade 9, when I visited the graveyard in Douaumont, France. Rows upon rows of white's never been the same day for me since then.

Eric said...

Here's another . . .

by Carl Sandburg (1918)

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

ali said...

great usual :)

CrankMama said...

Beautiful poem for Veteran's Day.

Em said...

They shall not grow 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.

For the Fallen - Lawrence Binyon

TrudyJ said...

Thanks for the Wilfrid Owen. I suggested on my Remembrance Day blog that "Dulce et Decorum Est" and also Sassoon's "Suicide in the Trenches" should be read on Remembrance Day along with "Flanders Fields." I appreciated reading your thoughts here.

Red Rollerskate said...

Nice tie-in. Great post.