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Thoughts about a poppy

Written By: - Date published: 10:48 am, April 23rd, 2016 - 61 comments
Categories: Anzac Day - Tags:

Readers may notice that I have popped a RSA poppy on to the banner.

Back in my youth I decided that there were things that were worth fighting for when it became necessary. It is a viewpoint that I have never had to change, and it shows in what I do. If you want a society worth living in, then you need to make sure that it either stays that way, or moves towards it.

I am part of a very long line of my older relatives who’d decided to get involved in everything from the wars NZ got involved in, to the similar involvement in unions, churches, and school boards taht make up the backbone of our civil society. In one way or another many of my younger relatives do so as well.

I was a soldier in the late 1970s being trained by the veterans of Vietnam, and have maintained my interest in our military ever since. I monitor the police and how they operate within our community. Because if there is a real sickness in our body politic, then that is where the real effects will manifest itself first. Periodically they retreat into a fortress mentality. We appear to be in one of those episodes right now.

I spent decades volunteering to help the best politicians I could find. That was because the idiotic ones make stupid decisions that will drive us into unnecessary wars and conflicts both external and internal.

Which is why I could never support John Key. He was the jingoist moron in 2003 who wanted to send NZ troops into active combat in Iraq for a war that had no valid reason. Apparently because he thought a few dead soldiers was worth it for a trade agreement. He appears to have just as little appreciation of the reasons to deploy troops now. But in my view, John Key hasn’t ever been notable for putting himself in harms way for others, or even considering others who aren’t like himself. He isn’t someone who can command respect from me.

If I could find an usable image of the NZ version of the white poppy, I’d pop one up on the left of the banner. While soldiers and even ex-soldiers aren’t known for being pacifists, that is sometimes hard to tell. They are realists who train with weapons a lot and are acutely aware of what they can do. Consequently they are extremely well aware of the costs of war. Wasting their lives for the unthinking egotistical stupidity of politicians, like a George W Bush or a John Key, isn’t high on their list of priorities. Trade agreements for farmers are not something that is worth dying for.

These days, I swipe the time from my busy life to carry on operating this blog. We need as many open and robust discussions as we can on the way that we run our society. So despite having the hassle of the occasional legal threats designed to silence this site, the irritation of maintaining the security on systems open to the internet and the trolls who exploit that, and the whine of the fans in summer in my living room – The Standard keeps running. For eight and half years so far.

In my view the alternative of having a society reliant on media corporates controlling public debate is a far higher cost.

Just at present my personal hero is Harry Leslie Smith, who at well over 90 these days keeps writing in The Guardian.  In particular this post from 2014 “This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time

The most fortunate in our society have turned the solemnity of remembrance for fallen soldiers in ancient wars into a justification for our most recent armed conflicts. The American civil war’s General Sherman once said that “war is hell“, but unfortunately today’s politicians in Britain use past wars to bolster our flagging belief in national austerity or to compel us to surrender our rights as citizens, in the name of the public good.

Still, this year I shall wear the poppy as I have done for many years. I wear it because I am from that last generation who remember a war that encompassed the entire world. I wear the poppy because I can recall when Britain was actually threatened with a real invasion and how its citizens stood at the ready to defend her shores. But most importantly, I wear the poppy to commemorate those of my childhood friends and comrades who did not survive the second world war and those who came home physically and emotionally wounded from horrific battles that no poet or journalist could describe.

However, I am afraid it will be the last time that I will bear witness to those soldiers, airmen and sailors who are no more, at my local cenotaph. From now on, I will lament their passing in private because my despair is for those who live in this present world. I will no longer allow my obligation as a veteran to remember those who died in the great wars to be co-opted by current or former politicians to justify our folly in Iraq, our morally dubious war on terror and our elimination of one’s right to privacy.

Most years I head off to a war memorial to remember my families dead and maimed, and those emotionally scarred Vietnam veterans that I met in the late 1970s. But like Harry, increasingly I’m getting irritated  with the trend towards armchair generals using such remembrances as a push to sacrifice by others.

Besides, I look at the people turning up at the memorials and question what they are doing to make a better life for our young ones.

We must remember that the historical past of this country is not like an episode of Downton Abbey where the rich are portrayed as thoughtful, benevolent masters to poor folk who need the guiding hand of the ruling classes to live a proper life.

I can tell you it didn’t happen that way because I was born nine years after the first world war began. I can attest that life for most people was spent in abject poverty where one laboured under brutal working conditions for little pay and lived in houses not fit to kennel a dog today. We must remember that the war was fought by the working classes who comprised 80% of Britain’s population in 1913.

This is why I find that the government’s intention to spend £50m to dress the slaughter of close to a million British soldiers in the 1914-18 conflict as a fight for freedom and democracy profane. Too many of the dead, from that horrendous war, didn’t know real freedom because they were poor and were never truly represented by their members of parliament.

Personally, I have no intention of allowing my society to return to that level of serfdom. Nor should any of you who read this post. Don’t go to a memorial. Go and find something useful to do.

61 comments on “Thoughts about a poppy ”

  1. stunnedmullet 1

    Harry Smith has more gumption and sense in him than all the UK and NZ politicians combined.

    • Whateva Next 1.1

      Harry Smith,
      There had better be a statue going up for that man soon, when I hear people who don’t appreciate how lucky we are to have experienced benefits of socialism, I send the you tube link.
      When I hear how we are allowing all that was fought so hard for, being eroded by stealth, I use Harry’s speech to explain why it cannot be taken for granted.
      Why does Cameron/Key believe they know more than a man who has actually been there?

    • Tim 1.2

      I work as a doctor in Auckland and when I was in London last year I got to see Harry Leslie Smith speak at a rally for the doctors there (who are now involved in ongoing strike action) and it was honestly the most moving thing I’ve heard in my life. His age didn’t stop him giving a great speech – he was the most inspiring speaker there by a long shot. The guy is really a hero.

  2. Anne 2

    Don’t go to a memorial. Go and find something useful to do.

    Haven’t been near one for around 7 years now. I buy a poppy and after everyone has gone home, I visit my local memorial and plant it in one of the sand boxes in memory of my father who saw action in the last year of WW1 and all of WW2.

    Attending a memorial has become the fashionable thing to do these days and for a lot of people I suspect it has more to do with glorifying war than acknowledging the futility of war.

    • stunnedmullet 2.1

      Crikey he was unlucky to have had to go through two wars, although lucky to have survived them…he must be one of the few NZs to have served in both conflicts.

      • Anne 2.1.1

        He was English and fought in WW1 by choice. Lied about his age by doctoring his birth certificate. Hence in his latter years we were never too sure whether he was actually two years younger than he claimed.

        • stunnedmullet 2.1.1.1

          Not a too unusual story for WW1 sadly.

          i’ll bet he could have penned a fascinating autobiography given the chance.

          • Anne 2.1.1.1.1

            He did pen a fascinating story about a secret mission to Northern Russia in the early 1920s where members of the Tsar’s family and others who survived the revolution were rescued and brought back to England. It was a year long mission and he had some very interesting experiences. Unfortunately the manuscript disappeared – a long story. Had it remained in our possession I’m sure it would have been welcomed with open arms by historians both in the West and the East.

            • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Had it remained in our possession I’m sure it would have been welcomed with open arms by historians both in the West and the East.

              Historians maybe but not so much the politicians. The West seems to have gone to a lot of trouble to hide the fact that they invaded Russia after WWI.

              • Anne

                Historians maybe but not so much the politicians.

                Yes.

                The mission to which my father was attached only involved a small number of soldiers etc. and their destination was Archangel in Northern Siberia.
                Thanks for that interesting link.

                • tinfoilhat

                  Probably all part of this piece of history Anne.

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Russia_Intervention

                  • Anne

                    Thanks for that background tfh.
                    You are probably right although the actual mission my father was a part of didn’t take place until a year or two after those events. It had a specific purpose… to rescue members of the Russian aristocracy and other notables. One of the reasons it took a year to complete was because they had to wait for them to get to Archangel which is on the Northern coast – the “White Sea”. The most well known evacuee was the Grand Duchess Olga who I think was the last Tsar’s sister.

  3. whispering kate 3

    That elderly man wrote a very profound statement about glorifying war. In my own immediate family my uncle volunteered with the First Echelon as a sapper and spent 4 years in the Middle East. He was working with explosives and twice had near misses on his life. On his return home he said there was unrest as they were told they were to be sent back again. Most said enough was enough and that there were men who still hadn’t done their bit for the war effort and should be going instead. Families that knew the right people were getting their sons into essential industry etc and peacetime jobs out of danger. In peace time he said he saw where the returned servicemen were not looked after properly, he saw marriages torn apart by unwell returned men and no help was available to them. To add to his cynicism he was told he would have to apply for his own service medals, they didn’t even have the decency to make an effort and send them out to the men. He replied and told them to stick the medals where the sun doesn’t shine.

    He never once went to the RSA for a beer for the rest of his life and never attended ANZAC Day services. He said war is hell – something not to be glorified at all.

  4. George Hendry 4

    And about time too.

    This Anzac Day and after, let’s stay awake to how thousands were sent to fight and die a hundred years ago, or vilified if they didn’t agree to fight. Also to how this has been commemorated by our government through sending soldiers to a war nothing to do with preserving a better life for anyone.

    Thanks, LPrent, for keeping this platform open.

  5. byd0nz 5

    It’s highly unlikey,
    That any conscripted soldier who has
    been to war,
    Would ever condone it.
    They found themselves killing and being killed
    By other conscripted soldiers,
    Their masters enemies now best friends,
    Conspiring yet again to kill a new percieved foe.
    Death does not come to the leaders,
    The elite rulers playing their money games
    The quest for world power,
    And the ego boost to their brains.
    They never marched
    or ploughed though the mud,
    They never shot or wiped their bayonets
    Of some poor buggers blood.
    The conscripts dont want to remember all that
    They’d sooner you dance to a more peacefull beat
    Peace between the peoples of the world
    War only benefits the rich rich elite.

  6. John Shears 6

    Thanks LPrent for a very thought provoking post.
    You lead me to the Feb25,2015 Audrey Young et al article which I had missed back then but is well worth a read in 2016.

    No I don’t do memorials either, support RSA by buying a Poppy.
    War is a stupid way to resolve problems , decided by so called leaders who then use the populace to do their dirty work. The problems are rarely resolved.

  7. Ad 7

    Because we have little need now for a military, I would wish for anyone that they find as meaningful a life as Lyn has found to contribute to society and open debate.

    But that doesn’t mean don’t go.

    Sometimes it’s easier to participate in ANZAC Day as a remembrance of what the New Zealand nation-state was. It’s compelling to be among the growing tens of thousands who get out at dawn and are there not only to reminisce or understand what their grandparents had to do in war, but also to reminisce on a time when the nation was stronger, commonly held values were more binding and clearer, and the basic membership of the self within the nation was formalized by the state.

    That kind of thing isn’t as clear within our Rugby World Cups or Olympic Games, where representation of the nation on our behalf has nothing to do with reality; they are games after all.

    In fact there’s no other time other than ANZAC Day that enables pubic permission of thinking out loud about what a strong state was for, what it meant to assent to that, and the incredible costs and the virtues of being in a command-and-control society. We can allow ourselves that.

    This ANZAC year in particular, John Key will have to salute our flag, and respect it.

    I can see why those who served get worn out from remembering such stress. But ANZAC Day is the closest we now have to a growing peace movement, and as a memorial to a kind of society, a kind of people, a kind of country, that we should in many ways be proud of.

    Nostalgia can in that sense have a proper utopian dimension. So I urge you to go to a service, and at the RSA breakfast, ask them what the country was like.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Because we have little need now for a military,

      Considering the increasing wars around the globe I think we need a military now more than ever. We do need to be able to defend ourselves because there really are people out there who are in charge of militaries that would probably invade us if we couldn’t.

      • Chooky 7.1.1

        agree about the defense of ones own country …but this has to be distinguished from fighting wars in far off countries where we have no business…and in wars which were not of our own making

        …where our troops are used as pawns to foreign countries intent on corporate adventurism

      • Ad 7.1.2

        New Zealand faces no military threats either now or in the foreseeable future.
        Little need. Not no need.

        Our use here for a military is primarily to help people after civil defence events, fisheries protection, etc.

        Which is the way the world should be. And well worth appreciating at a service on ANZAC Day.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.2.1

          New Zealand faces no military threats either now or in the foreseeable future.

          Well that’s a load of bollocks. The world is becoming unstable as resource depletion continues. NZ does have resources and someone’s going to want them in the future to prop up their own failing system.

          • Ad 7.1.2.1.1

            The NZ Defence White Papers have been pretty consistent for a couple of decades. You can check on the MoD website.

            No doubt there’s resource depletion. Just not anywhere near New Zealand.

            • Colonial Viper 7.1.2.1.1.1

              look up how much of our phosphate rock and diesel is imported, and from where.

            • Draco T Bastard 7.1.2.1.1.2

              The NZ Defence White Papers have been pretty consistent for a couple of decades.

              The future is not the past.

              No doubt there’s resource depletion. Just not anywhere near New Zealand.

              Did you notice China limiting its sale of rare earths?

        • b waghorn 7.1.2.2

          If we start seeing rapid cc upheavals I can see the need for a strong military, and as much as I hate to admit it having the yanks as allies could be useful.

          • Molly 7.1.2.2.1

            “Yanks as allies could be useful.”</i?
            Not if you want NZers to be considered those who are to be protected as opposed to US troops. And not if you want NZ soldiers to be under effective NZ command and orders.

  8. Chooky 8

    +100 fantastic post

    …it is important we remember the sacrifice of youth , idealism, heroism and tragedy of war

    …it is also important that we take action to ensure that unnecessary wars do not happen…and politicians with their wide- boy motivations, delusional big egos and power mongering are held to account

    …politicians who commit youth and troops to war should be on the front firing lines…anything less is cowardice

  9. Sirenia 9

    Very interesting discussion on The Nation this morning about PTSD and younger veterans and the disparaging of their experience by the oldies. Bullying rife within some RSAs it seems.

  10. maui 10

    I completely agree, my respect goes to those who are actively trying to improve society. Actions speak louder than words, and the people doing the ground work to make things better for everyone are few and far between. It’s much easier to complain and do nothing.

    The Standard was where I learnt to apply some critical thinking to our Anzac commemorations. It does worry me that now in primary schools kids are laying out white crosses for people they never knew that in some cases were invading someone else’s country. In my view WWII is best commemorated by my grandparents generation, by the people who saw it’s effects and were effected by it. With that generation almost gone now, the following generations should let it go too. They weren’t the ones directly involved.

    Meanwhile the conflicts (the New Zealand wars) that happened on our own soil remain in the darkest recesses of our closet. Those wars are in my view far more important to what the current state of NZ looks like.

  11. Ad 11

    Whoever covered the Titirangi roundabout with hundreds of oversized red poppies this week, good on you.

  12. Colonial Viper 12

    Thanks for your ongoing efforts to keep The Standard up and running, lprent.

  13. joe90 13

    ANAZC day rolls around and again, there really isn’t anything you can say about the horrors of war.

    The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

    So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
    And took the fire with him, and a knife.
    And as they sojourned both of them together,
    Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
    Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
    But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
    Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
    and builded parapets and trenches there,
    And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
    When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
    Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
    Neither do anything to him. Behold,
    A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
    Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

    But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

    Wilfred Owen, 1893 – 1918.

  14. Glenn 14

    My father volunteered as soon as he could after war was declared, something he regretted when he got old.

    He trained to be a wireless operator/gunner at Winnipeg, Canada and saw service in a Beaufort Torpedo Bomber at Malta which ended when his plane was shot down and the crew which all survived was picked up by a German ship and they became POWs. This saved his life as all the others in his class at Winnipeg never came home

    He found the Germans surprisingly hospitable at first and the Italians when he was first imprisoned in Italy temperamental and downright vicious. He was imprisoned near the Polish border when Italy surrendered where the food was Spartan and tedious and often starvation rations however he noted that the Germans weren’t eating much better at that time.

    He found most of the Germans fair and as fed up with things as he was although he found the few obvious Nazis could get nasty for no reason. Many of the guards were Polish and Ukrainian.
    The camp was definitely not a holiday camp however it was well run and as clean as possible and cold and boredom was the main enemy.

    The nearby Russian camp was the opposite, squalid and virtually a death camp in disguise.
    Dad worked cutting trees in the forest in a work party which helped when the Long March came when the camps were emptied and the POWs were marched away from the coming Russians across Germany in the snow.

    He was one of many who were marched through bombed out towns where arms and legs were protruding from rubble and they were stoned and abused by the inhabitants.
    He quite often told me about a column of Jewesses dressed in rags being marched down the road guarded by SS women on bicycles carrying big whips and using them.
    Just before he was liberated he and another had a run in with the Gestapo over some stolen food. That was the closest he came to losing his life.

    1946 he came back to NZ and carried on as though nothing had happened. He started a business and worked hard and raised a family..
    He suffered from nightmares and woke up screaming on many nights for over a decade or so. He died in 2003 after suffering from PTSD throughout his life with no help. As he got older he got withdrawn and down in the dumps on Anzac Day and on the anniversaries of things that had happened during his war years.

    He like many of our war heroes felt unappreciated and rightly so by a country that didn’t understand or care until it was too late. ” If there’ s ever another war” he used to tell me , “fuck em, keep your head down and never volunteer because in the long run those bastards that run the country don’t care about anyone but themselves.”

    • Chooky 14.1

      +100…similar to one of my ancestors who trained in Canada as a navigator and was only one of two to survive when shot down over Germany and he ended up parachuting into a forest and ended up in a tree…after a weeks walking he thought he was out of Germany but was sent to a POW camp for airmen near or in Poland …and at the end of the war went on the Long March…they survived with Red Cross parcels and he never said a bad word against the Germans( some of whom helped them on the Long March )and did not treat them badly in the camp

      …he lived for mountaineering and fun and very rarely spoke about the war … but was contemptuous of warmongers …for him war was a futile…he never joined the RSA

      • Anne 14.1.1

        he… very rarely spoke about the war … but was contemptuous of warmongers …for him war was a futile…he never joined the RSA.

        Same with my father.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.2

      +1

      My father would probably have said the same.

    • In Vino 14.3

      Truthful. My Grandfather was involved in the Battle of the Somme. He said to me one day that it was not like they say in the books. In the following months I studied the works of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, and Wilfred Owens. I then wanted to ask him which books he had meant (I was young at the time, and knew nothing to q

    • In Vino 14.4

      Truthful. My Grandfather was involved in the Battle of the Somme. He said to me one day that it was not like they say in the books. In the following months I studied the works of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, and Wilfred Owens. I then wanted to ask him which books he had meant (I was young at the time, and knew nothing to q

  15. millsy 15

    I haven’t been really comfortable with the whole glorification of war thing that is associated with ANZAC day, and everyone seems to buy the whole lie that the Gallipoli campaign was all about ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.

    Never mind that it was all about knocking Turkey out of the war (who were reluctant allies to Germany anyway) so Russia wouldn’t have to fight on 2 fronts, and never mind that the Greeks offered to do it but were turned down by the Allies.

    I think we can do better than use war and militarism to define ourselves and our identity. The construction of our Great Dams — Kurow, Coleridge, Benmore and Aviemore and the workers support schemes that acted as a precursor to our welfare system seems to be a more positive definition of national identity.

    On a more personal note. I’m pretty much the odd one out, because I dont really have any family who served in the wars. They were either too old, or two young at the time. My grandfather would have gone off to WW2, but his leg was permanently injured when blasting during a road contruction project he was working on went wrong, and he ended up being buried under several boulders. He spent the war in the home guard.

  16. Rodel 16

    LP-Thanks.
    This quote from that thought provoking article by Harry Leslie Smith:
    ” We have allowed vitriol to replace earnest debate and we have somehow deluded ourselves into thinking that wealth is wisdom….” somehow reminds me of the difference between Key and little.

  17. Onesie 17

    Regarding white poppies, they were only allowed to be on sale for a few hours, sold out within minutes here in Dunedin. Also, RSA protested quite strongly when there was talk about an ‘Archibald Baxter Way’ proposed to run alongside the war memorial, they didn’t think it was appropriate. So yeah, make of all that what you will.

  18. Halfcrown 18

    Excellent IPRENT

    All the males in my family have been in the forces.

    My dear old dad Stretcher Bearer in France, don’t know where but up a sharp end somewhere.
    He was in the ARP in the WW2 as he was unfit for the army after WW1 and worked in an Underground Casualty station. I know he was extremely bitter about WW1, came home to the “land fit for heroes” and went straight on the dole as there was no work. Did not collect his medals told them to shove em and would not attend or listen as he said to the Armistice crap as it is only there for the officer class to strut round in their braided uniforms like Peacocks.

    My eldest brother attended a nice little gathering called Imphal on the Burma Indian border just down the road from Kohema another nice little garden party. Suffered from nightmares for years.
    My other brother worked on the Berlin Airlift, had a lot of time for the German civilians he met
    I had to do the two year National Service where some were sent away to places like Kenya Suez Cyprus to keep some bloated fat cat “safe” from the locals who were claiming their property back.

    I have a friend who’s grandfather was a firemen in the east end during the Blitz. It is not very well know but the youth of the east end, not the privilege shits from the likes of Eaton or Harrow were used as runners for the fire brigade. There casualty rate was very high with a lot of them being killed or wounded. I am not sure of my fact but I think they never got a bit of tin recognising their contribution

    I do not have the need to attend the Anzac service to remember my dad and brothers, the heroic civilians that kept the place running during the Blitz and later the flying bombs plus schools friends who did not return from doing their National Service. In fact when I see Pig Head fucking Camoron, War Criminal Blair and our own Spiv Key or any politician getting sanctimonious over “our glorious dead” like the cadets Filth Thatcher murdered on the Belgrano, I want to heave.

  19. scottchris 19

    Most years I head off to a war memorial to remember my families dead and maimed, and those emotionally scarred Vietnam veterans that I met in the late 1970s. But like Harry, increasingly I’m getting irritated with the trend towards armchair generals using such remembrances as a push to sacrifice by others.

    Besides, I look at the people turning up at the memorials and question what they are doing to make a better life for our young ones.

    I agree.

  20. Reddelusion 20

    Have a cup of tea halfcrown and lie down Anzac day is like a death, you have the right to acknowledge how you see fit, Trying to argue or demean groups who did or not dio their bit is ridiculous, I am sure Eaton and Harrow has a huge honour list of old boys who have lost their life serving their country I am also sure today both those of left and right persuasion can draw on many family members lost over ww1 and ww2, likewise those who went to war where both of left and right persuasion, trying to bring the whole left and tight paradigm into it is BS. The argument for the reason and merits of war is for another’s at In regard to politicians turning up, well they have since time memorial and if the did not they would equally be slagged off. If upsets you don’t go of which I see that is your option but really who gives a continental if you go or not

  21. Huginn 21

    Dan Carlin has made a terrific series of longform podcasts if you’re interested in how the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo leads to 60,000 gone before lunchtime on the Somme.

    http://www.dancarlin.com/hardcore-history-series/

    • Reddelusion 21.1

      Thank you I know the history well, nationalism, imperialism, militarism, international treaties and alliances etc etc it’s well debated, I don’t see Anzac Day as the day for the debate or been more accurate the remembrance to be hi jacked by left or right

  22. Kat 22

    Time to play Bob again………
    John Key obviously has never heard these words sung or uttered….. just like he was absent minded during the 81 Springbok tour…..

    Yeah right!!

    Come you masters of war
    You that build all the guns
    You that build the death planes
    You that build all the bombs
    You that hide behind walls
    You that hide behind desks
    I just want you to know
    I can see through your masks.

    You that never done nothin’
    But build to destroy
    You play with my world
    Like it’s your little toy
    You put a gun in my hand
    And you hide from my eyes
    And you turn and run farther
    When the fast bullets fly.

    Like Judas of old
    You lie and deceive
    A world war can be won
    You want me to believe
    But I see through your eyes
    And I see through your brain
    Like I see through the water
    That runs down my drain.

    You fasten all the triggers
    For the others to fire
    Then you set back and watch
    When the death count gets higher
    You hide in your mansion’
    As young people’s blood
    Flows out of their bodies
    And is buried in the mud.

    You’ve thrown the worst fear
    That can ever be hurled
    Fear to bring children
    Into the world
    For threatening my baby
    Unborn and unnamed
    You ain’t worth the blood
    That runs in your veins.

    How much do I know
    To talk out of turn
    You might say that I’m young
    You might say I’m unlearned
    But there’s one thing I know
    Though I’m younger than you
    That even Jesus would never
    Forgive what you do.

    Let me ask you one question
    Is your money that good
    Will it buy you forgiveness
    Do you think that it could
    I think you will find
    When your death takes its toll
    All the money you made
    Will never buy back your soul.

    And I hope that you die
    And your death will come soon
    I will follow your casket
    In the pale afternoon
    And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
    Down to your deathbed
    And I’ll stand over your grave
    ‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

  23. Venezia 24

    Whispering Kate….thank you for your post above. Similar to my families’ story. One grandfather b. 1891, went to both world wars. Died WW2, bringing armaments up through desert to fight Rommel, & buried in Fayid War cemetery Egypt. I never knew him. Other grandfather I knew well till he died (when I was 11).Enlisted in Canterbury Mounted Rifles. Fought at the Somme aged 18, then at Messines where he was badly wounded, but survived. He was left with awful respiratory effects of the gas in the trenches and I will never forget his coughing at night. He had a similar view of war to what you describe above.
    My father and all my uncles saw active service. But the effects of war laid waste to their relationships in the post war period. What today would be called PTSD, and the general lack of support once demobilised, saw to that.
    I suport the fundraising efforts of the RSA for the welfare of servicemen, but feel really ambivalent about the glorification of war and militarism, and cannot bring myself to memorialise Anzac Day.

  24. locus 25

    I joined the army – the infantry – to prove myself. I never thought of what it meant to be there on a battlefield, I just believed what I was told….and quietly learnt to kill. Yes I was a willing soldier back then – a tough lad in the squad.

    I ‘served’ ….. a notion which totally soaks into you….. alongside guys who’d been in Malaya and Vietnam, fought in the Falklands, who patrolled Northern Ireland. Mates who were shot, who had killed other men, who had finally learnt what it meant to be there on the battlefield. All for what…..

    And now there’s no hell I can imagine that’s worse than war – what it does and what cannot be undone.

    Every year I’m grateful for ANZAC day – the meeting of strangers and friends at church or cenotaph to reflect and speak up. And each year, the poppy, and all it symbolises means more to me.

    I read a lot of war poetry when I was at school….. I wish I’d understood it better

    My thoughts now: summed up best by an excerpt from ‘The Next War’ written by Robert Graves in 1917

    Another War soon gets begun,
    A dirtier, a more glorious one;
    Then, boys, you’ll have to play, all in;
    It’s the cruellest team will win.
    So hold your nose against the stink
    And never stop too long to think.
    Wars don’t change except in name;
    The next one must go just the same,
    And new foul tricks unguessed before
    Will win and justify this War.

  25. peterlepaysan 26

    I have always been bemused by the ANZAC thing.
    WW1 was an imperial war. We celebrate Anzac day for why? British imperialism?

    Yes I agree a hell of a lot of people died quite unnessacerily through british stupidity and arrogance. We should remember them.

    We should remember why we remember them.

    The Gallipoli Campaign was a huge disaster, as was WW1.

    WW1 was the initial nick of the umbilical cord between mother england and NZ.

    Media coverage would have us believe in the heroism of anzacs (actually the aussie’s did not give a toss about us {they still dont}).

    Heroism had nothing to do with it.

    The anzacs, like all other british colonials or ex colonials were the same as Wellington’s troops at Waterloo, cannon fodder.

    obtw anzac is a british imperial ermy acronym for australia new zealand army corps.

    We were an appendages to a majestic imperial army.

    Sigh!

    • Draco T Bastard 26.1

      +1111

    • millsy 26.2

      “… (actually the aussie’s did not give a toss about us {they still dont})…”

      And they have shown time and time again that they will throw us under a bus at the first chance.

  26. Jack Ramaka 27

    My paternal grandfather fought in France and Belgium 1916-1918, he fought in the Somme and in the 1st Battle at Passchendale, he was on leave in Paris when the 2nd Battle took place where the Otago Regiments lost 90% of their troops in 1/2 an hour as the German wiring defences had not been cut and the troops were cut down by German machine gun fire, they we also being bombed by our own allies heavy weapons.

    As a teacher and a headmaster post war he told his students on the out break of war in 1939, “don’t be in too much of a hurry to go to war, as you will not get any thanks when you get back”.

    My maternal grandfather who fought at Chunnuk Bair, Gallipoli stated after the war that “there is no God”, I can remember him as a child stalking flies around the house as he hated them because of his memories of the flies when fighting on Gallipoli. From memory only 67 men survived the attack on Chunnuk Bair from 700-800 men who fought.

  27. North 28

    Marvellous post LP !

  28. seeker 29

    Wonderful post for the present day lprent. I agree with everything you have written and thankyou for creating, maintaining and ‘manning’ the standard so that ethical values and principles that are worth fighting for can be aired on the field of “open and robust discussions…on the way we run our society”.

    My dad who fought in ww2 in the Royal Engineers (Sappers) 1939-1945, mainly in France initially, would have agreed with you too. I think it was amazing he survived.

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