CSotD: Remembrance Day

We’ll give the lead today to Dave Whamond’s Day by Dave (AMS), because he’s Canadian and the poem that inspired Poppy Day was written by a Canadian doctor during World War I, when thousands fell but the churned up ground proved a welcome environment for the bright red flowers.

There’s a great deal more about it here, and I remember when I lived just south of Montreal how Rememberance Day dominated society there, while the best we could do on this side of the border was to keep it on November 11 rather than, as with other holidays, turning into another three-day weekend.

But as with most of our holidays in the US, the schools, banks and post offices are closed but everything else goes on as u$ual.

Dave Granlund’s tribute reminds me of a major article I wrote about suicide, in which a psychologist told me that one reason for the phenomenon among the elderly is that nobody knows or wants to remember that they were once young, spry and dynamic. We see the old duffers on Veterans Day in their American Legion gear, but we don’t see who they were when they earned it.

Plus this: After the Wall was erected for those who died in Vietnam, there was an outcry that the eight women nurses who also died there be remembered, but it was nothing new: When I was researching in old newspapers, I found returning WWI vets lobbying to have the nurses who served be recognized, and this article on women at war ran in 1926.

Vera Brittain served as a nurse during the war and wrote a memorable, crucial memoir, Testament of Youth, as well as poems that will break your heart, a female counterpoint to Wilfred Owen, who, lest we forget, was killed in action a week before the Armistice.

All of which, as Ed Hall suggests, makes it that much more reprehensible when politicians exploit the military to advance their own personal ambitions.

To be fair, Tuberville is not harming veterans. He’s focused on harming those in active service, and perhaps the real blame should be not on him but on his fellow legislators who tolerate his blockade.

For political exploitation of veterans, we turn once again to Britain and Suella Braverman, who, in her relentless search for attention, has created a controversy over today’s planned peace march on behalf of Palestinians.

As Andy Davey depicts it, Braverman has incited a confrontation with the head of the Metropolitan Police Force, who has found no reason to ban the march, despite various people feeling it is inappropriate to hold such a rally on Armistice Day. Despite Braverman’s fury, that’s not how the law reads nor is selective enforcement how good policing works.

It should be noted that this will be one of several marches by the group on consecutive Saturdays, and that, while it falls on November 11, London officially marks Remembrance Day on Sunday.

There will be, as Ella Baron notes, a strong police presence at the Cenotaph honoring the dead of World War I, and they have decreed a no-go area in the immediate area of the monument as part of their negotiations with the marchers.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Harry Burton — The Irish Examiner

Martyn Turner — The Irish Times

It has not gone unnoticed in either Cork or Dublin that Braverman called Saturday’s protest a “hate march” and compared it to the parades of Northern Ireland.

Both Burton and Turner note that her notion of terrorism seems upside-down: The marches on the 12th of July are pro-British, pro-Union events organized by the Loyalists of the Orange Order.

The Papua, New Guinea Courier, England’s satirical equivalent of the Onion, not to be confused with the actual Papua New Guinea Post Courier, has a report about Braverman’s latest hijinx.

It has also not gone unnoticed by British wags that “Suella” sounds a lot like “Cruella,” but, like her governmental equivalents in this country, she didn’t attain her current status without some popular support, and Graeme Keyes offers a glimpse of her fan base.

I like Arlo and Janis (AMS)‘s tribute, because it’s low key and reminds me that a lot of what I learned about veterans came from being a young boy and listening to the men talk in the barber shop while I waited my turn.

It’s not all about bang-bang and bravado.

There may be bang-bang, but you can see from their faces that chest-pounding bravado had little to do with it. It was regular people doing what they felt they should.

And occasionally having to stand inspection with a greasy bayonet. As they say, “War is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”

Two strong suggestions for movie watchers, if not tonight, soon:

King Vidor’s unforgettable 1925 classic, The Big Parade

A spoiled rich kid (John Gilbert) goes off the fight the Great War, where he finds friendship with blue-collar fellow soldiers, fear and duty on the front line, and unexpected romance with a heartbreakingly lovely, devoted local girl (Renee Adoree).

Laughter, horror and tears alternate among the two-and-a-half hours of this extraordinary film, which is a little hard to find but very much worth the effort.

Fred: You gotta hand it to the Navy; they sure trained that kid how to use those hooks.
Al: They couldn’t train him to put his arms around his girl, or to stroke her hair.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Three veterans return from World War II. Al Stephenson (Frederic March), a banker turned soldier, now questions his upper-middleclass values in light of his experiences leading soldiers in the Pacific Theater. Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) is a flyer from a working-class background who suffers from PTSD and an unsympathetic, married-in-haste wife (Virginia Mayo). Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) is a sailor who lost both hands when his ship was attacked. Russell was awarded a special Oscar, but then won Best Supporting Actor anyway.

This one is easier to find, and, if you’ve already seen it, you’d probably like to see it again.

Rod Emmerson tops off the day with a simple piece proving that less is more and the New Zealander reaches across the Tasman Sea to join Eric Bogle with a reflection on sacrifice and, as Wilfred Owen termed it,

6 thoughts on “CSotD: Remembrance Day

  1. I. I joined the Navy for six years because I believed the very best people should be defending our country. And the food was free.

    II. Soon after my son was born, I was standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier watching them load rockets onto planes. I vowed I would never again work for anybody involved with weapons.

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