Friday, November 09, 2007

Though Poppies Grow


Small family things from four generations.

From the Great War, the Second, the Cold War, this Terror War.

The crude paper knife was made by one who saw the blood-red of a Vimy dawn reflect the shell holes beyond the wire.

One who fought past a little town that bore his name -- from whence his people had departed five hundred, and nine hundred, years before.

Etched in the brass of the blade's obverse is a Maple Leaf and the one-word legend: France.

It is enough -- for those who know the battle litany of that war: Ypres, Passchendaele, Mons, Amiens, Cambrai, the Somme.

And after Normandy, Caen and Falaise and the costal route, other names have joined the geography of family mind: Bihac, Velika Kladuza, Kabul and Kandahar.

Of this fourth generation, three of mine wear, or have worn, the uniform of our country.

Have been willing to lay their bodies down.

This Sunday, as always, I will stand near the cenotaph where shines the names.

While the colours dip and the wreath ribbons flutter, I will listen to The Post and Reveille -- and The Flowers O' the Forest.

And remember.

And try not to weep.

28 comments:

Sam said...

We will be standing by the village war monument, while the national anthem plays on the loudspeaker, and the mayor will give the traditional speech.
Then we'll go to the cemetery to pay respects to the soldiers buried there.
And like every year, I'll wonder why mankind can't live in peace.

Robyn said...

I will be honoring the veterans in our church, and praying that my cousin, currently stationed in Iraq, comes home soon to his wife and children.

Bernita said...

I don't wonder, Sam, I know why not - but it doesn't stop me from praying that we will.

I pray it be soon, Robyn.
And safely.

Charles Gramlich said...

My immediate family has been lucky with war. My father had a congenital heart problem and didn't have to fight in WWII. My brothers were too old or too young for Korea and Vietnam. I was too old for the Gulf Wars. I admire those who didn't have such luck and did their duty.

SzélsőFa said...

Our family has missed the wars, any war, actually, but if we looked back to the right time, there surely would be someone.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Charles.

Very likely, Szelsofa, since wars, over time, seem more frequent than periods of peace.

raine said...

It breaks the heart...especially when viewing the cemetaries, the sheer numbers...

A touching array, Bernita.

My grandfather kept relics of his tour in France his whole life.
My father told grim stories of his service in the Pacific during WWII, his eyes distant and haunted.

They never forgot.
May we never forget either.

Vesper said...

But we should weep, Bernita, for their lost lives, and dreams, and loves. And for the absurdity of all wars. Although no rain of tears will make up for this loss...

James Goodman-Horror Writer said...

Very touching tribute, Bernita. I salute you...

Bernita said...

Makes one "shiver in grief and gratitude."
Thank you, Raine.
"May we never forget either"
Unfortunately, in the way of things, the peace they bought breeds forgetfulness.

I can't help it, Vesper.
It moves me so, and the tears always come.

Thank you, James.

Anonymous said...

um, trying not to weep right now.

Church Lady said...

The saddest of all human moments.

My youngest glimpses the news here and there, and always asks the same question: "Why can't they talk about it?"

It is incomprehensible, to a child, how one person could kill another.

Bernita said...

I'm sorry, love, but those are honest tears.

Only to child who has grown up in safety, I'm afraid, Chris.

The Anti-Wife said...

Weep. It's good for the soul.

writtenwyrdd said...

No immediate family overseas now, but plenty of coworkers and children of friends and coworkers. It's hard to hear that someone's child has died, harder to be there without knowing what to say, since nothing consoles one at such a time.

December/Stacia said...

Lovely, Bernita.

Ric said...

wow, thing is actually working...
Lovely, my dear Bernita, simply lovely.

We honour those whose sacrifice ensures our freedom and our future.

Bernita said...

Perhaps necessary for the soul, AW?

"to be there" - being there, Written, says more than words.

Thank you, December.

Don't know what we'd do without our superkids, Ric.
Thank you.

Gabriele C. said...

We have lost the right to mourn our dead with WW2.

Say the politicians.

I say differently and raise a glass to Heinrich Völler and Karl Vorntran. They may have died for a wrong cause, but bravely.

ORION said...

This is just so poignant.

Bernita said...

Gabriele, all those who understand war respect bravery and sacrifice and duty - and honour the faithful dead.

Thank you, Pat.
With sorrow there remains also a fierce and abiding pride.

Jeff said...

Beautifully written, Bernita.

Yes,tears of pride and sorrow.
May we never forget their sacrifice.

Bernita said...

Jeff, thank you.

Billy said...

Very poignant, Bernita. Let us hope we can beat our swords into ploughshares one day.

spyscribbler said...

It always seems odd to me to say Happy Veteran's Day. A much better tribute, Bernita.

Aren't you in Canada, though? Do you guys celebrate it, too? (Obviously, LOL ... just curious!)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Billy, Natasha.

Here, it is called Remembrance Day.

Shesawriter said...

My grandparents remembered a time when the sacrifice veterans made meant something. Grandma says that's not so for this generation. She says it's because most young people in my country have never gone without. Maybe she's right. I dunno. One thing I do know is that people can't even pay attention, much less appreciate what these brave men fought and died for. It's sad.

Bernita said...

Tanya, one of the inevitable consequences of their sacrifice is the freedom to forget.