Remembrance Days

So why do we celebrate ‘Remembrance’ Sunday?
We don’t.
We mourn.
We remember those who died in senseless slaughter.
We remember those who fought for our freedom, but we do not celebrate war.

David Roberston


(U.S. World War I veteran Joseph Ambrose attends the dedication parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.)
Wikipedia

On November 11th, each year since 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson first addressed
a mourning yet grateful nation recalling the sacrifices made and the countless numbers of
lives lost during World War I…
November 11th has become the day that we as a nation officially recognize our military personnel.

It was in 1926 that Congress voted to permanently and officially mark November 11th as a
national day of remembrance and recognition.
A national day we permanently set aside in order to pay tribute to our Veterans and
military personnel both former and current.

A day to mourn, a day to remember and a day of gratitude.

It is also the day that coincides with the marking of what our European kinsmen
observe as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.

It is the day that will forever mark the ending of World War I.

Marked so because it was on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour in 1918
that the War officially ended.

World War I was a war that caused 40 million deaths of both military members and civilians…
leaving behind some 23 million people wounded.
Wounds that we now know, that for many, never healed as the scars remained both visible
as well as hidden and internal for years to come.

World War I was the war that was hailed as being the war to end all wars…
And yet it would only be a short decade later that the world would come together
again in open hostilities.

Our nation officially changed the name of Armistice Day to Veteran’s day in 1954.

And so as our Scottish friend The Wee Flea, David Roberston, so aptly reminds us…
this 11th day of this the 11th month, we gather together as free nations to recall
the sacrifices made for our freedoms by generations who went before us.
We do not celebrate, but rather we remember and we mourn.
We mourn the lives taken far too soon.

David goes on…
“It is also fitting to remember our history.
In a postmodern, dumbed-down, self-absorbed culture such as ours,
we both forget our history and we far too often end up believing a fake historical narrative –
one that just happens to suit our current feelings and views.
Cambridge University students,
supposedly the elite of our educational system,
recently voted not to support the wearing of poppies and Remembrance Day,
because they ‘glorified war’.

There are many things that glorify war,
but remembering the Fallen in previous wars is not one of those things.
Nor is it wrong to particularly remember the dead from your own country –
they, after all, are the ones who died so that we can have the freedom we have today.”

So on this day, the 11th day of this 11th month,
may we mark this day with grateful hearts…
remembering those who have sacrificed so very much for each of us…no matter our
beliefs, our color, our politics or our status in life…we are free…
this much we know.

Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

-Psalm 46:8-10 NIV

We Shall Remember Them – December Record Editorial

Decoration Day

“Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
“Their children’s lips shall echo them, and say –
“‘Here, where the sword united nations drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!’
And this is much, and all which will not pass away.”

Lord George Gordon Byron

And now the old lion with her lion cubs at her side stands alone against the hunters who are armed with deadly weapons and impelled by desperate and destructive rage…..
The stars in their courses proclaim the deliverance of mankind. Not so easily shall the onward progress of the peoples be barred. Not so easily will the lights of freedom die.

Sir Winston Churchill

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(commemorative medal, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee / Julie Cook / 2014)

Decoration Day
Memorial Day
VE Day
Armistice Day
Remembrance Day
Veterans Day

Be it May 8, 1945,
May Bank Day,
November 11th of any given year,
the last Sunday in May,
or even
the 4th day of July. . .

Be it commemorating the lives lost during the War Between the States–which was the impetus for Decoration Day, now more commonly known as Memorial Day—
to those lives lost during any military conflict. . .

Be it here in the United States or throughout Great Britain, our most constant ally,
these days for the somber remembrance and reflection on the cost and price for the freedom we enjoy to this day must never be allowed to wane or be forgotten.

Sadly these days are slowly being allowed to morph into other things. . . VE Day (Victory in Europe, the official end of WWII in Europe) has become an official bank holiday.
Decoration Day, which was originally a day to mark and decorate the graves of those lost during the Civil war, was renamed to Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is now synonymous with the official start to summer, trips to the beach, furniture sales, department store sales, car sales and the ubiquitous cookout. . .

The same can be sadly said for Veterans Day, Armistice Day (the day celebrated in Europe marking the end of WWI, which coincides with our Veterans Day) and even our 4th of July.
Days originally meant to pay tribute to the lives lost during military conflict as well as a day to acknowledge and pay tribute to the continued contributions made for our safety and freedom by our armed forces.

The quote today by Lord Byron was written in 1815 commemorating the allies victory at the battle of Waterloo. Churchill, addressing the House of Commons in 1942, when after a myriad of defeats and woe-some lost battles could finally speak of small victories. Ever hopeful that the tide would finally be turning for his isolated and bombarded Island nation, Churchill found Byron’s poem most fitting.

This came following what Churchill dubbed the victory of the Battle of Egypt –El Alamein. It should be noted that the late M. Venizelos, a prominent contemporary Greek leader, had once observed that “in all her wars England / Great Britain — always wins one battle — the last.”
I am certain that this observation was a keen thought in the back of Churchill’s mind–would his beloved Island nation come through once again.

The reasons for Memorial Day, Veterans Day, VE Day or any other day of remembrance is just that–for remembrance–For the remembrance of the myriad of lives, mostly young lives, lost fighting and defending the simple principle of freedom for both you and I. These are days to honor lives lost as well as for the lives which still stand ready to ensure that our lives remain forever and constantly free and safe.

The Spoils of War

“This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final Note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.”
Neville Chamberlain

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The above image is that of the former allied checkpoint in Berlin, one of three dividing check points, separating East from West or West form East, depending on your luck or lack of— It is the infamous Check Point Charlie. This is the view seen as one would transition from the free American sector to the Soviet sector of the east. On the opposite side of the placard of the young Soviet Soldier is an image of his same American counterpart greeting those traveling to the free West. Only diplomats or “tourists” with permission were allowed to travel to and fro—not so for Germans.

When Berlin fell to the Soviets in 1945, one third of the city had been destroyed due to massive bombing blitz. What remained of the once vibrant cultural city was divided into 4 sectors, sliced like a pie, remnants of a vicious war all going to the Soviets and the 3 major allies; the United States, the United Kingdom and the French. Thus came the deadly spawn of the second World War– the surreal existence known as The Cold War.

The Reichstag, the house of German government dating from 1871 which, in 1933, was a most likely ominous victim of Nazi lies and propaganda, mysteriously burned. The fire ushered in the insidious vacuum known as the Third Reich. But by 1945, as the Soviets powered their way into Berlin, the Reichstag was pummeled once again. Following was a time of neglect and ruin. By the reunification of 1990, the once proud piece of Prussian glory was fully restored, once again being the seat of German Government. Today visitors may view the remaining inflicted death wounds as the bullet holes, grenade holes, and charred remains are still visible–solemn reminders of a wicked past.

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From a window from within the Reichstag one can look out upon the River Spree which flows placidly through Berlin. Along the bank of the Spree is a painfully simple memorial dedicated to the 13 lives lost over the course of approximately 5 years as eastern Berliners attempted swimming to the free West. Tragically each attempt to swim across the expansive river was met with the resistance of a machine gun. Each individual cross represents those who were gunned down by East German Forces as they attempted to swim to freedom.

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Visitors today to a sleek modern Berlin may still see large sections of the remaining visible division of oppression. . .the infamous Wall which separated freedom of democracy from the crushing regime of totalitarianism.

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In March I wrote a lengthy post regrading my visit last Fall to Berlin entitled Taxi Drivers, The Wall and Hope
Today’s post’s intention, however, is not meant to recapture the moments of a trip or to showcase the sights of a now modern city which dominates the European Union, as it is home to the world’s most powerful woman, but rather I’ve chosen to use Berlin as but one small example reminding us on this Veteran’s day, this Armistice day, this Remembrance Day that we must be ever mindful that the cost of our freedom has been and continues to be exceedingly high.

Today’s post could very well feature cities throughout the world such as Beirut, Phnom Penh, Dresden, London, Sarajevo, Budapest, Osaka, Tokyo, Hiroshima… No matter the global location the results are always the same with the sad ending being that at the end of the remains of the day, following any war, it is always messy and terribly convoluted. There will always be fallout and nasty repercussions. All of which usually falls upon our military personnel to pick up the pieces the governmental leaders picked apart.

Theirs is the thankless glamorously lacking task of ensuring peace and safety as they are always the ones left to offer aid in the cleaning and rebuilding. They have been scorned, belittled, maligned, resented, shot, wounded, maimed, blown apart, killed and tragically, often, forgotten. And yet they continue doing their job(s).

As buildings, monuments and lands become known simply as the spoils of war, the easy pitiful pickings and crumbs which are greedily gobbled up by the victor, our servicemen and woman are often sadly the by-products of those spoils.

It is my hope that we, those of us who enjoy the forgotten work and sacrifices made on our behalf by the countless men and woman defending the ideals of freedom and democracy, can work to maintain an awareness never allowing any of our servicemen and woman to be a part of those crumbs, those spoils as it were.

Each day service men and woman are returning home from such far flung places such as Afghanistan and Iraq with not only physical scars and wounds of conflict, but most often, sadly, they return with the unseen aftermath, the mental and emotional anguish and damage that takes such a tragic toll–not merely on the warrior but also of his or her family and friends. Tragically it is those types of wounds, the unseen enemy that remains behind, that, we in the general populace, prefer to ignore as those wounds are not readily “fixable”.

Soldiers came home that way from both World Wars, from Korea, from Vietnam and now they come home broken and damaged from Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet we do little to nothing in the way of support, aid, or help. We live our daily lives with little to no regard to the fact that a conflict of “war” has been going on now in this country for the past 10 years. There is no consolidated war front back home, no ration books, no victory gardens, no nationwide civilian drive to promote the servicemen / woman and their families. No all out show of sacrifice and support from the nation left behind known as the “home front”

Times have certainly changed.
It seems it is now left to the wives, mothers, fathers and children of our servicemen and woman to provide the sweeping show of support that often goes unnoticed by the general population–that is until a day such as today, Veterans Day, rolls around. Then we all take pause to reflect, yet by Tuesday we are back to normal—that is for everyone but the solider and his or her family.

Freedom is never free.
May we not take it for granted on this Veteran’s day, or any other day. . .

I’m including a couple of links that may offer the casual reader of this post a place to begin if the desire to do more than reflect stirs within ones thoughts—-

http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org
http://troopssupport.com
http://www.militarysupportgroups.org
http://www.military.com/spouse/military-life/military-resources/how-to-support-our-troops.html
http://www.supportourtroops.org