"Now every April I sit on my porch And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march Renewing their dreams of past glories
I see the old men all tired, stiff and worn Those weary old heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?" and I ask myself the same question"
(Anti War Song - The Band played Waltzing Matilda – Eric Bogle)
The older I get the more disenchanted I become with Remembrance Sunday and the military circus which has overtaken it. This Sunday we will see pictures of thousands of ex Service men and women marching to military bands, they will march past dignitaries festooned with medals, gongs, fierce looking toy swords and uniforms which owe more to Ruritanian farce than anything resembling the truth, they will salute these people many of whom have never heard a real gun go off. Most prominent among them of course will be our absurd Royal Family dressed up like a Gilbert and Sullivan chorus line and just about as useful in a fight. I always feel obliged to say at some point when discussing such matters that I am not a pacifist I believe that it is sometimes necessary to fight wars as in WW2 which was a "good war" if you will, it was good guy against bad guy and quite straight forward, so straight forward in fact that recent adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer greatly by comparison.
I have tried over the years with increasing lack of success to try to consider Remembrance Day without my mind going through the utter stupidity and waste of what it reminds us of, the slaughter, the mind boggling number of dead and injured, the lost generation and the other lost generation who were their friends and loved ones whose lives were also shattered. Most of all I think of the Politicians and the Generals, the officer class, mostly pampered clowns to whom the Army was a second choice because they were too stupid for the city. Consider the following; I can't find the words to express or make clear my feelings about it. Both sides in the trenches were aware that hostilities were to cease from early in the morning of the 11Th. and some of these officers still insisted on sending men out to fight and depart this life right up to 11 A.M. the scheduled time for cease fire. It is a matter of record that men were dying right up to 11 A.M. because they were ordered to continue, despite knowing for several hours that the war was effectively over. As I say I can't find the words to describe those responsible for such folly, let's just say it makes me rather angry but: at least those responsible got medals so that' O.K. then right? We even have statues to some of them for God's sake. Remembrance Sunday stopped being about the war dead a long time ago and is now a jingoistic military circus which glorifies war and is more to do with supporting present wars than remembering previous ones.
More than anything else the so called "Great War" should be remembered first and foremost by all countries involved as a matter of shame, utter burning shame that millions died because people could not come to an agreement, shame that Politicians and the rulers of societies around the world allowed this to happen. I do not wear a poppy and have no intention of doing so for two main reasons, the first I have talked about above and the second is because of the huge betrayal of the whole notion of the day and what it has become in terms of raising money through charity for families and wounded servicemen and women. Those who made sacrifices and paid the price of war, we eulogize them and tell them they are heroes and they will never be forgotten so; why do we make them rely on charity? Why is it that the biggest group of people with parallel backgrounds in our prisons today are ex servicemen and women? Approx. 10,000. Who knows how many are homeless; addicted to drink or drugs or locked away in mental institutions; how many live lives of quiet desperation in a single accommodation surviving on benefits and emotionally crippled: how many have simply been abandoned because they were unable to cope after life in the services? Someone is not telling the truth about this whole business.
This Remembrance Sunday takes place against a chorus of accusations of murder and torture against our forces. Our Ally; the Cretin Bush; has admitted that torture was used against civilians, he reckons that's O.K. The young man from next door who waved goodbye to you as he left resplendent in his uniform could 'God forbid' be one of those who went on to commit torture or murder, that is the reality of war! that's what it does to people. We need to tell that truth, why did German soldiers make suicide pacts with each other in the nightmarish French trenches rather than be captured by Scottish Regiments? A sobering thought and no mistake but; that is war. A great many of our servicemen and women did not join the forces to kill people, many were bored and wanted to travel, some were unemployed and some fancied learning to Ski, scuba dive or parachute from a plane.
We owe it to them and the others who are thinking about stepping into harm's way to at least tell them the truth about the whole sordid business. I have no wish to stop remembering the war dead they have my respect no matter the side but I think we should try to restore some dignity to the whole business and start giving our servicemen and women a proper fair deal; telling them how wonderful they are and then cutting them adrift is simply not good enough, this is what happened to the wounded from the Great War and 92 years later it is still going on we as a nation should be ashamed of that.