Sunday, 11 November 2012

O.B.E.


While I didn't like my GCSE English and English lit teacher very much, he did introduce us to the war poets of the first world war, for which I am very grateful. I hadn't studied history much at school but studying the likes of Owen and Sassoon gave me some insight into the horrors of war.

Remembering


I worked as a care assistant for a year after I graduated from University and many of my patients had lived through the Great War, so I learnt more from them and also from survivors of WWII, including some people who had been interned in Auschwiz, their tattoos an indelible testament to the worst of humankind.


I hadn't intended to find the poem, Glory of Women by Siegfried Sassoon, but was browsing through my book of his poems to photograph something for here. The last three lines might strike a chord with some of us:

O German mother dreaming by the fire
While you are knitting socks to send to your son
His face is trodden deeper in the mud


I have mixed feelings about Remembrance Sunday.  Yes, I think it is vital to remember what people went through, and still are going through in our armed forces, but I also think we should remember the civilians affected by war. The people of Afghanistan who have lived with war for generations, families in Pakistan currently facing drone attacks in the name of the 'war on terror' which creates more terror, just not where I live. The conflicts we hardly hear about through our media as they've been going on for so long and appear so hopeless that we, but not all of us, seem to have abandoned them.

I can get quite ranty about this, however other people can put this into words better than I can such as this article in today's independent from an Afghanistan veteran questioning if it's right for our Prime Minister to wear a poppy while "fetching and carrying for the arms industry".

I'll leave you with one of the poems I studied at school which has stayed with me. While we remember what has happened, the question is how do we stop it from happening again?

O.B.E. by AA Milne

I know a Captain of Industry,
Who made big bombs for the R.F.C.,
And collared a lot of L s. d.--
And he--thank God!--has the O.B.E.

I know a Lady of Pedigree,
Who asked some soldiers out to tea,
And said "Dear me!" and "Yes, I see"--
And she--thank God!--has the O.B.E.

I know a fellow of twenty-three,
Who got a job with a fat M.P.--
(Not caring much for the Infantry.)
And he--thank God!--has the O.B.E.

I had a friend; a friend, and he
Just held the line for you and me,
And kept the Germans from the sea,
And died--without the O.B.E.
Thank God!
He died without the O.B.E.



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