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For The Fallen

poppyToday is Remembrance Sunday, when we honour the sacrifice of those who have fallen in battle. I always have mixed feelings about this day. Although I mourn the passing of these brave (or hapless) souls, I can’t help but feel that they died in vain, ordered to their demise by those sitting comfortably behind desks, far removed from any danger, let alone in peril of their own lives and I feel sad and rather angry about that. The “War To End All Wars” and all the others that followed, their pain forgotten like that of childbirth by those who have no excuse for sending the next generation like lambs to slaughter.

The idea of war fills me with a kind of horror and deep sadness that seems inexplicably absent from the Remembrance festivities ceremonies surrounding this day. It’s all very solemn and proper but never results in sufficient regret to prevent it happening again. And all the events marking the start of the Great War this year, seem to have a detachment almost bordering on the kind of jollity and gung-ho of those who flocked to enlist. Mind you, I find it hard to associate the poor, innocent poppy with such abhorrence. I know why it is used*, but before I did, seeing these delicate and brightly-coloured flowers waving in the breeze brought me a sense of joy that I have never been able to reconcile with war.

*Poppies grow on disturbed ground, hence they filled the war-torn Flanders fields. My school was near to a quarry, so poppies were a common sight and I grew up with a fondness for them which pre-dated my knowledge of this and simply heralded the warm Summer days and the end of the school year. 

Sometimes, it is necessary to fight, often it isn’t, but it pains me to belong to a species where we learn nothing from our bloodshed. Even the acts of Remembrance increasingly feel like just another occasion to dress up (even the poppies have morphed into a kind of blingy jewellery), look solemn and play at horror, like distant relatives at a funeral just going through the motions, or Hallowe’en, another festival where the meaning has been lost. War or Treat, anyone?

In happier news, today also marks the day of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nobody can argue that *this* was bad thing, particularly those of use who grew up in the shadow of the Cold War and possibility of total nuclear annihilation that was only ever 3 minutes away. To mark this, DH has insisted that I share this with you as an appropriate tune. So on an altogether *much* lighter note, I give you:


Also among today’s fallen (and descending, in slight desperation, into the totally frivolous), I have to include my Strawberry Tart. Very tasty though it was, I must admit to not having quite mastered the art of making Crème Patissière. It was my first time and it tasted fab, but was, sadly rather less firm that I would have liked, so my tart didn’t so much slice, as ooze. I also forgot to take a pic of how splendid it looked before discovering this. Oh well, at least I can learn from my mistakes.

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9 November 2014

5 Comments to “For The Fallen”

  1. Understand your sentiments, Ania. We still glorify war in a weird sort of way, but not with the same ignorance and innocence as the young ones from 1914. And yes, they did and others have gone to slaughter on the whims of the powerful, like pawns in the old game. And still do.

    I see some hope for an end to this nasty game, but it will still be awhile before those who fear are outnumbered by those who deliberate rationally and those who love.

    In the USA, the Great War is seen so differently than in the UK. Like a small blip on the radar of war history since we weren’t in it for long. It was the Vietnam war that finally taught us the price to be paid, but even then, the powerful did not learn. Sigh.

    Thanks so much for bringing this up, though. It is good to remember.

  2. I think to truly understand one either had to have been there, whether as a participant or a civilian.

  3. I think that we still do need to commemorate these wars, even though there is hardly anyone alive now who was actually there. I see it as a demonstration of support, not just for those who have passed, but for those who still sit in a corner of some desolate foreign field, worrying about land-mines and snipers, still serving their country. A way to support soldiers, but not war.

    Lovely piece 🙂

  4. I was speaking to someone earlier who told me that in Australia they celebrate Remembrance Day in terms of being lucky to have survived. Any combination of 11/11 is seen as lucky. I hadn’t heard this before, but it’s an interesting take.

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