November 11th…..Armistice Day.

Until in her late nineties mother used to march past the Cenotaph for the annual ceremony of remembrance whether on foot or, in later years, pushed in a wheelchair by a chum from the Brigade of Guards .

Father would never attend any such ceremony, considering it all a masquerade which glorified the deaths and wounds of those who were sent to war for interests that were not their own.

Mother wanted to march with her comrades.

Father turned his back on the whole thing.

But on some things they were agreed. Those who died in war did not ‘sacrifice’ their lives…….they were killed, wounded, potentially maimed for life both mentally and physically, in actions ordered by their governments.

Governments which do and have not given a toss for those who serve in their wars. Plenty of lip service and ceremony, but a U.K. Ministry of Defence which throws money at inept procurement projects while sending the human beings out in the field with defective equipment to take their chance. Discharged veterans without aid and support, some even on the streets.

Further, those who go to war have a strong bond of solidarity…they look after each other through thick and thin…something in civilian, in political life, in these days of identity politics we seem to have forgotten.

Can you imagine them not going to the aid of a comrade because he voted for Brexit….was of a different skin colour….approved of Trump? No, you can not. They will bring him in and argue about their differences later.

It is a lesson we can learn from those who volunteer to defend their country…though all too often they end up defending some other country’s interests.

In civilian, in political life we should stop identifying people by the labels either they or others give them.

We need to band together to defend the values which we need to have a healthy society.

Good housing, good education, real employment.

We can argue about our differences when we have won.

And on a personal note, here is something that brings back memories of mother.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea offers care and accommodation for a limited number of veterans, known as the Chelea Pensioners and recognised by their red coats and black tricorne hats.

Every year at the Royal British Legion Ceremony of Remembrance they make their entry, clapped to their place on the stand to the accompaniment of ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’.

And every year, without fail, mother would greet their entry with a cry of ‘Creepers!’ and then have to take to her handkerchief as she remembered the ‘boys of the old brigade’ now gone.

18 thoughts on “November 11th…..Armistice Day.”

  1. I came of age during the Vietnam war, so I’ve always been pretty cynical about the whole “hero” thing. Marching alongside returned vets helped reinforce that attitude. Friends whose draft number came up generally walked into a recruiting office and negotiated a noncombat assignment. The men in my family were merchant marines or worked in factories essential to the war effort, so no guns and no macho glorification of carrying a gun. Especially in these crazy times, I am grateful to those around me who modeled a nonconfrontational way of living.

    1. The Vietnam draft dodgers I came across in London who had the money and the means to ‘study’ while those less fortunate or less well connected went into the belly of the beast disgusted me by their self congratulatory attitude. That burden was not equally shared.

      1. You’re right. It wasn’t. My college friends were army brats, or knew army brats. They knew the system and worked it to become medics, etc. They were quite clearsightedabout what they were doing, not self-congratulatory at all. It was a whole different thing from the trustafarians that I met later on.

    1. What saddens me is that service personnel now seem to be used to enforce commercial aims rather thsn for legitimate defence of their country. And now risk facing war crimes trials while the those responsible for sending them into danger go scot free.

  2. The men and women who join the current iteration of armed forces are taught to kill and are taught to value weapons over all. My brother did not come through my father’s army. My father knew that, so they simply did not talk, as they had no common opinions to share.

  3. Exactly my thoughts too. I’ve just been to the local “two minute silence” remembrance here – not for gung-ho or nationalistic reasons, but because I want to remember all of the poor s*ds who were forced to die or be disabled for “life” for the crazed or incompetent aims of some numpty politician. If wars have to be a human pastime, and it seems as if they do, then we ought to insist that they are physically (and only) fought by the politicians who cause or who fail to deal with the war-causing nonsense in the first place. I would love to hand those in Parliament a rifle and put them on a train to far-flung oblivion to “fight” for their own precious works. I suspect that they’d work harder at finding more peaceful solutions after a spot of high-velocity lead poisoning…

    1. With you completely. Father used to dream of bringing back the roman arenas and shoving the warmongering politicians – and weapons manufacturers – in there armed as gladiators. Imagine Blair with net and trident…..Father’s thumb, needless to say, would always have been down.

  4. Can’t help but wonder if banding together to defend the values for the healthy society we all crave seems like the right thing to do, even when we disagree with the reason the government offers as justification. While I opposed the Vietnam war, I honor and respect all who served in it. Maybe I’m just being naive by hoping that someday governments will not be so willing to send its youth off to war.

  5. I think if the same people who started wars actually had to fight in those wars, along with their personal friends and families, there would be a lot less wars. Yes some are necessary (Hitler had to be stopped), but most aren’t, in my humble opinion. And I also agree that we do far too little to take care of the veterans that make it home alive. After the Viet Nam war, they came home to insults and criticism….it’s no wonder so many ended up as drug addicts. And it really would be nice if the rest of us could behave the way soldiers to with each other: that kind of support could fix so much of what is wrong with this world!

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