Good morning, Internet, it’s Friday, November 11th. Remembrance Day.
I am finding myself to be totally inarticulate on the subject of Remembrance Day. It makes me think of my grandfathers, who both served in WWII and who both kept their experience to themselves throughout my parents’ childhoods. My mother’s father told me a little about his time in the Navy. My father’s father, I know, was in the air force, but he never spoke to me about it once, despite the fact that I was his only grandchild for 14 years.
For the people I knew and know who lived through it, war is not something you talk about. So how do we remember? And what do we do with the memories we borrow from relatives and friends and history books?
Last night, I was scouring the internet for an arrangement of In Flanders Fields that I learned and sang as a child. There are many videos on YouTube of many choirs singing the words, but the arrangement I was seeking was painfully absent. And then I found this.
Although, if you’re like me and have seen this poem recited or sung every November 11th since kindergarten, you know that there is a hole where the end of the poem should be. And for the purposes of Peanuts, you can see why Linus skipped it.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.
“Keep fighting the fight,” say the dead men in McCrae’s poem. “Do not let our deaths be in vain.”
You could choose to interpret “quarrel with the foe” to mean any quarrel with any foe, if you wanted to. But the poem is about a very specific burying ground in a very specific war, and that war ended 93 years ago today. That foe is long gone.
But the challenge remains. Honour them, and don’t let their deaths be in vain
What have we learned?