Remembrance Day

Every year, I make a little post to remember those men who lost their lives in both world wars.

There can hardly be a family in this town, or any other, who went untouched by those two conflicts, and not simply in an abstract way.  For every man who died in the mud of Flanders or on the beaches at Gallipoli, ten more were broken physically and mentally.  Those men came home to Ireland and raised families or sank into alcoholism.  They faced rejection, ostracism and general contempt for having joined the British army, even though many of them did so out of economic necessity.

Here’s what I think about it.  These men were our grandfathers and our great-grandfathers.  Some of them fought out of conviction.  Some of them joined up, like many other young lads, in search of adventure, soon to be cut short by the brutality of war.  Many chose, idealistically, to fight against Hitler and who could criticise them for that when our own country didn’t offer them the opportunity?

One way or another, we need to remember these men each year, just as we remember the others who went before us, because these men belong to us.  We might not agree with their motivations, but they are our forebears and we must keep them in our hearts or else risk losing our past.

The other alternative is to hold on to old bitterness forever and poison ourselves in the process.

I’d rather cling to an old ancestor than cling to an old wrong.  What about it?

32 thoughts on “Remembrance Day

  1. And out of respect to your grandad I pause and reflect and wish you and him well.

    Last year I added Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori.

    This year I remind myself of the eventual ” froth corrupted lung” of the poor fucker ,who fumbling for his gas mask missed it.

    We should remember them and love them and never forget them. And provide a context too of why the GB and USA persists with their war mongering remberences.

    I don’t mean to hijack your tribute and I haven’t .

  2. I like to think that Remembrance Day also covers WWII, and while I’m no fan of warmongering, I can’t say it was started by GB or the USA.

  3. You could NEVER be accused of war mongering – truth be known, you’re a big ol peacenik.

    I tell my children about words and context and perish in the attempt at appropriate ,so that eventually, they might understand better than I have ,what is cant and rhetoric .

    I met a kid recently , Ethan, from our town, played in goals with the older boys team and he’s joining up the British infantry next year, Royal Irish. He’s 15 and has his shit together.( that type of kid)

    But fuck it if I wasn’t troubled about him him in Afghanistan with his war mongering carbine shooting some blue eyed turban wearing 15 year old praying to Allah .

    And who the fuck am I to criticise him for getting out this 28 % unemployment kip of a town to make a career for himself shooting at the Taliban.

    Let me remember him now though – in goals and with gel in his hair ….

  4. I do two posts every year in memory of those who went before us: this and All Souls.

    There are also about 500 other posts each year.

  5. I have no argument with you or with your reflection and rememberence. I commend you.

    I’m caught in that place between rememberence and glorification – bur it is I who am caught, not you.

    I was the same caught last year when you spoke about the monument, and for as long as I see the Poppy on… English jersey yesterday…. or the perennial stars and stripes in every US news slot, I will be forever troubled by why the fuck they, THE MAN, can hijack my emotions and try to use them against my better judgement.

  6. If you have any influence with this 15 year old who plans to join the Royal Irish or his family, use it.
    His generation, maybe even his parents generation are buying drugs off the streets that are exported from Afghanistan, the proceeds of which are being used by the Taliban to further their “Jihad”.

    On the original post about Remembrance Day, we suffer from our age old native hypocrisy. How dare anyone wear a poppy in public because it “offends” our history and sensibilities (but thank God that they went off to fight so that we didn’t have the Germans pushing us around telling us what to do!)—70 years later they drag themselves out of their ruined cities and achieve their goal of European domination without a shot fired. Make no mistake we are at war, an economic war which we cannot win whist we allow our enemy to set the agenda and choose our weapons for us. Wear the poppy with pride before it becomes verboten by our new leaders.

  7. Good post and i find it amazing that people dont recognise the signifigcance of the poppy.

    A scottish friend of mine who is a manager in a bank was approached by an employee with a complaint that someone ( Irish ) on his team was wearing a poppy, he tried to explain the facts that you have in your post and was accused of not caring because he was a Brit.

    Posts like this can educate the ignorant

  8. Poppy Day should be celebrated every year,
    I’d say almost everyone on this Island had a Grandfather or Great Grandfather fighting in the trenches in WW1 & some distant uncle or granduncle in WW2.
    As per your orignal post (Bock), many people deem to forget the sacrifice that those people made, 1 was in getting a wage & hopefully a pension for their familes back home & the other one was the fact that they thought they were also fighting for a free Ireland from the union in WW1 in which many signed up to fight in which it was rejected at time after WW1

  9. My Great grandfather gave up three brothers, a finger and some of his lung in exchange for a medal at the Somme. I have photo-postcards they sent home -the four of them look so small and hungry and tired. My Grandmother traveled to visit the battlefields of Flanders on a number of occasions during her life and always spoke with pride of her father’s involvement in the great war.She always wore a poppy on armistice day too, although I suppose it was always less unusual to see poppies in Dublin compared to beyond the pale. As a youngster i never knew there was any resistance to wearing the poppy -it never occured to me anyone could have a problem about with it.
    My grandmother was much quieter about the fact that her father couldn’t get a job for years after he returned (he had been a tram driver until 1913) and there were many who did all they could to make life a misery for them because he had taken the Queens shilling in order to feed his family.
    Anyway, like it or not, the Great war is part of our history, as is the second world war despite our supposed neutrality. If we are ever to truly take our place among the nations of the world we need to grow up and replace the collected myths of the modern Irish state with the actual facts.

  10. It’s just a coincidence that I have been going through a book of war poetry that one of my daughters bought me a few years back,and I was surprised by the fact that I got quite emotional.Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a soppy old Mayo man.These men had much the same thoughts that we have today,but they had an overiding sense of loyalty.Today we are a lot more sceptical.The poets put into words what a lot of men thought,especially the poems of Siegfried Sassoon,Wilfred Owen and of course our own Francis Ledwidge.Great post Bock,well done.

  11. I see Fisk’s point, that the poppy has been hijacked by cynical self serving c*nts who couldn’t care less about the victims of war, and i agree with him to some extent. But i don’t think the poppy carries the same jingoistic connotations here as it does in the UK. To a great many people in Ireland it represents an acknowledgement of a history that is at odds with the official mythology.

  12. I always presumed that the money raised by the sale of poppies went towards soldiers charities

    If i am correct, what is wrong with people wearing them?

  13. I see nothing wrong with anyone choosing to wear one in a free society, just found that article an interesting take on the topic.

    No doubt many sacrificed.

  14. Fisk is second guessing peoples motives. He does that a lot. He makes stuff up a lot too.

    “A certain Guardian photographer who would not describe as a friend to imperialism regaled me with stories about how snappers hated to work with him because the desk wanted to know why they hadn’t got any pictures of the amazing, heart-rending colour Fisk inserted into his copy. Answer.’ Because I did n’t see them, and I was with him the entire day from when we got up and had breakfast to when we got back to the hotel at night. Apart from when he was in the toilet, I suppose the massacre could have happened there.’ “

  15. Pardon the bejasus outta me ! You said ” Fisk is great “. You. ” I meant to post that link ” , you said. In response to someone who brought up his name and someone else who responded to it.

  16. That’s a very low standard Peadar. I’m sure you’re capable of making an adult comment with a little bit of effort.

  17. Hi,

    I enjoy reading this blog regularly and jumped in there when the thread went to the significance of poppy or how we symbolise the remembrance & forgiveness sentinment refered to in the piece above, the link paralleled my thoughts on the politisation of the symbol.

    Didnt intend to hi-jack thread,two interesting pieces ;)

  18. Hmm. For me, it’s how one personally wears the poppy – if it’s to remember, and honour, well and good, if not, then that’s very sad. Can’t say I would 100% agree with Fisk’s article either – many good points in it but he comes across (as so many do) – to me anyway – as being guilty of the same kind of fashion-crime as he accuses other of – except his is the “I am more qualified to talk about the poppy because *I* had a family member who died in a war” club….to my knowledge, only a second cousin on my dad’s side lost his life in actual combat during WW2, a few other distant-ish relatives died in the the service of various armed forces but not during that particular war…..but that doesn’t stop me from breaking down when I really stop to think about all the people who fouight and died in those wars…
    And who in their right mind thinks that we should somehow try to personalise the symbol in any way based on our beliefs, or the country we came from….it’s not about us – it’s about them, and they went and died, whether for right or wrong is another story.
    So why shouldn’t I be able to wear a poppy, not with pride, but with humility, to show my respect for the men who gave their lives in battle so that I might live mine in peace?

  19. Well yes of course it is, and it doesn’t have to be remembrance day to remember either, but that’s not really the point is it?

  20. I don’t believe that the mass slaughter of the Great War occurred so I can now live in peace.

    For me its not universal (its ambiguity as a symbol was recently recognised when BBC world introduced a no poppy policy), but with a nod to recognising our commomwealth past./neighbours.

    I’m all for the choice.

    @ lapsedmethodist , I’m no Fisk fan-boy but a cursory browse suggests its not as clear cut as you portrayed i.e. accusations have been made.There has to be a high probability that he would have made enemies given his mo in the middle east, so I guess we’ll see.

    Sorry Bock, brought it back to Fisk.

  21. I don’t know. The only point of this post is to remember the men who fought in the wars. I don’t care who wears a poppy.

  22. My grandfather walked out of Passchendaele minus a finger and a bit of his soul.
    Lookng at things from a distance I can see how his experience affected my father
    and eventually me and my siblings. “The Third Generation”

    War is an evil fact of life.

    However those (Blair, Bush and Cheney for example) that promote war, while having no intention of actually participating in the dance themselves are a greater evil.

    Being able to get a British Legion poppy in Limerick gladdened my heart.

    For those with issues there is a white poppy.

    There is a campaign in Britain to stop Cameron hijacking 2014 for political purposes.

  23. Donate to the poppy appeal, but is it possible to remember the heroes who died for our freedom without wearing a poppy?

    Does wearing a poppy (or any other symbol) show the wearers cry for acceptance and belonging?

    In 1930s Germany the Nazi salute was an excellent method of finding out who is “with us or against us”. I really fear that the poppy like other symbols is the first step to what Goebels referred to as the big lie.

    It has been proven in science that uniforms can encourage the most terrible abuses ( I fear that the poppy and the “stars and stripes” and other symbols are capable of being perverted slowly into another form of mass control.

    We owe it to all the heroes of both world wars both in uniform and out of uniform to be eternally vigilant to prevent the past from repeating itself.

    I apologise for the apparent extreme view, but if you really believe that the poppy is a symbol of remembrance and freedom then you would value the right not to wear it too.

  24. I haven’t expressed any view on wearing poppies. The post is simply about remembrance day, and the painting is shown because some people choose to wear a poppy.

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