Posted by: redqueen | November 11, 2005

Armistice Day…

…when, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, in the 11th month of 1918, the First World War ended. “The war to end all wars”, which had spanned four years, cost the lives of 10,000,000 men and a further 20,000,000 wounded.

The Menin Gate, Ypres.

The Menin Gate, a memorial to those who lost their lives defending the town of Ypres, has a central “Hall of Memory” within the Gate, which is 66 metres long and 36 metres wide. The names of 54,896 men that have no known grave are engraved along it’s length.

“Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?
Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate, –
Those doomed,conscripted, unvictorious ones?”

So began the poem “On Passing the New Menin Gate” by Siegfried Sassoon, who also wrote the following statement in July of 1917.

“I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defense and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practiced on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize.”

Siegfried L. Sassoon…July 1917

How tragic that this statement could be written by any member of the forces occupying Iraq today – eighty-eight years later.

How can any government send people, who have taken on the job of defending their countries, to fight an unnecessary war for profit? How can they use fantasy WMD as a reason for pre-emptive attack, then use chemical weapons on a civilian population? How can they put Saddam Hussien on trial as a war criminal when they incarcerating and torturing the people they pledged to ‘save’? The answer to all these questions is, they can do it because, we let them.

Citizens have a duty to the forces that have pledged to fight on their behalf. We are their voice and should do all in our power to speak what they cannot. We are not the ones being killed. We are not the ones being maimed. More importantly, we are not the ones who have to live with things seen or done, with no just cause as mitigation.

Is this how the German population felt during WWII? How they were demonised for doing nothing against their leader – is that to be our future? We are allied to a fascist country


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