Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day

As Remembrance Day rolls around again, and marks the 90th anniversary of WWI, I find myself looking at the ceremonies in a different light than I ever have before. I always just looked at the veterans, tears running down their faces as memories I can't even begin to imagine pass through their heads for the millionth time, remembering all the friends that passed away so long ago, all the horrific things they've seen, looked at them and felt so terribly sad. I still do feel so sad when I look at them, but now that sadness is overshadowed by anger. I hear the speeches, hear the broadcasters words, see the formal ceremony on TV, and I can't help but feel that, almost unknowingly, they're glorifying war. They say honor our veterans, for they fought for freedom, they fought to end war. They say they're fighting now to bring peace. But how can fighting bring peace?? I do honor our veterans. My heart breaks a little when I see the look in their eyes. But I think there's something far more important than honoring those veterans, empty feelings that don't change anything, and that something is simply stopping it all. There's a line from a song that really wrung true with me, even though I took it entirely out of context. "They all cry bloody murder over graves already dug". People always bring up the Holocaust, quite possibly the most well known tragedy of the past century, and I find it rather ironic when people say, as they often seem to, "never again", as if the Holocaust was a uniquely horrible event. There have been other genocides. There are CURRENTLY genocides happening as I write this. The soldiers in WWI fought "the war to end all wars" and that still seems to be the party line, although so many more wars have happened since The Great War. So here are the things I think the youth, me, my sister, my friends, my friends friends, youth worldwide, need to do. First, we must KNOW about the wars that have happened, understand the truth behind why they were fought, not just the propaganda we hear about from schools and governments (that seem to subtly imply war is a not so bad, or at least necessary, thing). To understand, and to NEVER forget. In that I agree with the government. We must never forget. But instead of being grateful, instead of sitting back, confident that our countries soldiers will take care of us by fighting some "morally right" war, look into the veterans eyes, look at the pain there, and say NEVER AGAIN. Not now, not in the future. I will not subject people to that, it has to stop. That's what we need to do. Fighting doesn't end war. As I write this I'm still slightly teary, in part because I'm not sure how much I can actually do. As usual, I feel like I only have half of the answer. I know we need to do something, I'm just not sure quite how to go about it. I just finished listening to one of the (in my opinion) most powerful anti-war songs ever written, and tears ran down my face. It feels so true now, even though it was written nearly half a century ago. I give you the lyrics here, and I urge you to listen to this song.

Universal Soldier
http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=j6imjvgJFvM&feature=related (I think this version sounds the best, but don't watch the video as it's out of sync)

He's five foot two, and he's six feet four,
He fights with missiles and with spears.
He's all of thirty-one, and he's only seventeen,
Been a soldier for a thousand years.

He'a a Catholic, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Jain,
A Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew.
And he knows he shouldn't kill,
And he knows he always will,
Kill you for me my friend and me for you.

And he's fighting for Canada,
He's fighting for France,
He's fighting for the USA,
And he's fighting for the Russians,
And he's fighting for Japan,
And he thinks we'll put an end to war this way.

And he's fighting for Democracy,
He's fighting for the Reds,
He says it's for the peace of all.
He's the one who must decide,
Who's to live and who's to die,
And he never sees the writing on the wall.

But without him,
How would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau?
Without him Caesar would have stood alone,
He's the one who gives his body
As a weapon of the war,
And without him all this killing can't go on.

He's the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame,
His orders come from far away no more,
They come from him, and you and me,
And brothers can't you see,
This is not the way we put the end to war

Other anti-war songs I find particularly touching:
Hero of War by Rise Against
Where Have All The Flowers Gone by Pete Seeger
Blowin' In The Wind by Bob Dylan (I personally like the Peter Paul and Mary cover)

Remembrance, and Peace,


  1. This is EXACTLY how I've been feeling today. Thank you. Why is it that you always say exactly what I've been feeling? :)


  2. We must just be kindred spirits. :-)

    Lots of hugs,


  3. Ahhh, I remember when that song came out. Buffy Sainte-Marie was cool. I'm a VietNam-era antiwar activist and I agree with you in theory but I do live in the real world and accept the necessity of a basic military. Of course, the sad reality is that a tool will always get used by those who own it. Those who control armies use them.

    It's a soldier's DUTY to refuse illegal orders, like fighting in an undeclared war; but, again in the real world, they get court martialled for doing so. It's a quandry.

    At root, I agree with that last verse: He's the universal soldier and he really is to blame.

  4. Thanks for your comment! :-)

    I do live in the real world, but as an anarchist, I really do not approve of the military or the power structure it supports. With our civilization structured the way it is, a military is unavoidable. But I'm strongly in favour of completely changing this current structure that's built on violence, so am strongly against the military, the police, and the government-corporate complex they uphold.