Into the West, Annie Lennox, Howard Shore, LOTR, 2003
Last Sunday was Remembrance Day 2018. The 11th of November fell on a Sunday for the first time in my memory, (probably faulty) and the whole ceremonial routine took place at exactly the same time as our 11:00 AM and only Sunday Mass. Over the years my feelings and thoughts about “Remembrance Day have changed quite a bit. Bitterness has crept in.
I used to share all the emotional attachments about honoring my fallen brothers and so on, but lately my cynicism about the civilian leadership who have never served a day in their lives has tainted my memory and my sadness with bitterness. I guess I am turning into a grumpy old man.
So I chose to go to church and give the Remembrance Day ceremonies a pass, also one of my first times to miss this “official” photo op for all elected and appointed officials everywhere. We played “The Last Post”, had our politically correct “Minute of Silence” at the beginning of Mass and then the smaller than usual congregation got on with the True Sacrifice.
The missing parishioners must have felt that the Remembrance Day Ceremonies were more important than Mass. “C’est La Vie” in Canada anyway. Laurence Binyon is most famous for “For the Fallen“, often recited at Remembrance Sunday services in the UK, and an integral part of Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand, and November 11th Remembrance Day services in Canada.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. But do we really remember them, except in an abstract way, for a minute once a year? And how do we honour their memories, do we honour the values they died for?
The memorial evolved out of Armistice Day, which continues to be marked on the same date. The initial Armistice Day was observed at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a “Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic” during the evening hours of 10 November 1919. The first official Armistice Day was subsequently held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace the following morning.
“The eleventh day of the eleventh month has always seemed to me to be special. Even if the reason for it fell apart as the years went on, it was a symbol of something close to the high part of the heart. Perhaps a life that stretches through two or three wars takes its first war rather seriously, but I still think we should have kept the name “Armistice Day.” Its implications were a little more profound, a little more hopeful.” (Ten Everlovin’ Blue-Eyed Years With Pogo (1959), p. 100)
The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day around here due to the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. At first real poppies were worn. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I; their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.
This blood spilled by the self interest of secular progressive powers who, in their wisdom, declare that they do not need God and Religion, that those of us who still believe in GOD and Country are nothing but “Bitter Clingers”.
The saddest fact of our Canadian war deaths is that in fact they died in vain. They were suckered by civilian politicians into making the ultimate sacrifice to uphold immoral means to evil ends.
My grandfather, having served in most of the most vicious battles of WW I, was of the opinion that it was all just a terrible waste, the annihilation of a couple of generations worth of the best and the brightest of Christendom, before secular materialism wiped out their descendants. He is now buried in a Veteran’s cemetery near Montreal maintained by the Last Post fund. In our respective enlistment photos we could have passed for twins except for the difference in style of our uniforms. I remember him being very proud of me signing up and serving … I still miss him.
It didn’t have to be the way it was …
David Warren writes: “When, for instance, the newly-enthroned Karl I — Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary; “fanatic” Catholic Christian — discreetly proposed a separate peace to the allies in the spring of 1917, his agents were rebuffed, outed, and mocked. … our nationalist politicians could now hope to utterly crush the foe. They would demand unconditional surrender. … Drowned in the gunfire was this Blessed Karl’s expressly Christian plea. In an instant the decision was made, in the West, to persist till millions more were slain, and the conditions assembled for international violence and totalitarianism through the next seventy years.” Go and read the whole post, it is worth your few minutes.
But the bitter truth is that Evil triumphed. The politicians got their way.
My father survived his war (WW II) because he had the great good fortune to be part of the second cadre, the second wave of reinforcements, He joined later in the war, because he was just 18.
He was part of the “replacements”, who were always about to be deployed into action when the “enemy” finally surrendered. He used to cynically joke about “they always quit because they heard we were coming into the line”, of course there were no lines for his outfit, which suffered 70% casualties at times in the missions they took on. He died in 1984, they are all dead now, including most of the people I served with.
I survived my war (WW III) because I had the equally great good fortune to serve in a branch that never, during my service, had anyone shooting at us in anger.
Yes, there were at times mortal danger, but not from “enemy action”. We cruised around at half strength with obsolete ships and equipment much older than we were, according to the political expediency of the day, showing the flag, showing a “presence” and playing “chicken” with our contemporaries in equally obsolete ships and aircraft on the “enemy” side, who were also “showing a presence”.
Because budgets were more important than lives. Not enough crews to man the ships, not enough fuel to deploy to all our commitments, not enough ammo or torpedoes to come even close to a full load-out, not enough maintenance hours to fly the choppers safely. 300+ days a year at sea so that some ignorant wanker of a politician could make grandiose speeches about things he didn’t believe, in Parliament, at NATO meetings and in the UN General Assembly.
I eventually stopped seeing that 20 something seaman on that ratty old Soviet destroyer 100 yards away as an “enemy”. He was just “me in another uniform” just doing his patriotic duty because of the designs of the real enemy back home in the Kremlin, and in Ottawa.
For years, I used to feel guilty that I had never “seen combat” like my army peers, until one day an older vet told me: Don’t be a stupid wanker! I should be happy about “missing out on combat”. That was a “rain-check” he would have been grateful for. I changed my mind that day and asked God to forgive my stupidity.
WW I, II, and III only slowed down the Evil momentarily, Pyrrhic victories at best.
The truth of my Remembrance Day memories is that everything our fathers and grandfathers fought against and what we, in our turn, believed we stood against is now running rampant at the very heart of our own polite society. And yet, God loves them all … that is difficult to understand …
Real life example … There were indeed horrible atrocities committed during the waning days of the Vietnam war. But the majority of the real “Baby Killers” weren’t “anyone in a military uniform” as the college crowd believed and attacked us for, back in the 70’s.
We were well trained and disciplined Canadian military … we and the vast majority of all serving military everywhere weren’t even remotely associated in any way with this sort of action, this sort of atrocity, which was stopped in its tracks by other members of the same military involved in the atrocity.
None of us had anything in common with the actions of the leadership of some angry draftee wack jobs in some Vietnamese village, except that we also wore “green uniforms”. But the protesters didn’t give a frack about the “truth”. They didn’t seem to care about “facts”, or “truth”, ’cause it was “cool” to be a tool of the left, a useful idiot. And besides, “every right minded person knows this to be true”. Evil in action. And yet, God loves them all … that is difficult to understand … and even more difficult to emulate.
The real “Baby Killers” went on with their lives, left their protests behind, graduated from all their colleges, cut their hair, dressed up in suits and are now running the national murder show. In government, health, police and academia, the policies of death triumph everywhere. “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” (Pogo).
So about the time I retired from the military in the late 70’s I had come to the conclusion that the real enemy was in Ottawa and other government capitals. Nothing I have experienced subsequently has convinced me otherwise. Evil Triumphed. For now.
And yet, God loves them all …
I had an atheist acquaintance who, a few years ago, returned to his homeland to live out his days. He died, like all men do. I suspect that he has discovered that real “reality” isn’t even close to what he imagined it was.
Anduril, Howard Shore, LOTR, 2003
I imagine my old acquaintance, sitting around a back wall table in some eternal bar somewhere outside of time, along with his gods, his heroes Carl Edward Sagan, (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996 (aged 62) Stephen William Hawking, (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) and Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver.
There they sit, telling each other tall tales about how screwed up and unfair the outcome turned out to be. Or maybe not, after all, God loves them all …
Occasionally, when things get tough here and now, and I start to feel sorry for myself, I think I might just run away somewhere like Australia or New Zealand, but it is not this day.
We can’t really run away from our thoughts, our understandings as they evolve. Wherever we run we all die and if we have not gotten it right by then, then what?
My atheist acquaintance’s favourite theme when running down believers (often), especially Christians was all the evil killing of all the Christian religious wars, especially Catholic religious wars, of all the centuries of history. And, as with the current “Global Warming” religious fad, the data simply do not support the rhetoric.
But, as one gent in my store said recently: “I DON’T CARE ABOUT FACTS! Everyone knows it’s true.” We are sorely afflicted, perhaps even fatally, with the philosophy of “feelings”.
Emotions trump facts and logic every time and if someone disagrees with the “emotional” excuses for faulty beliefs then they are Bulverized out of existence.
Uh-huh, and we now have Socialist Secular Progressive governments at the Provincial and Federal level who are very busy expanding the state role in eliminating inconvenient people, the economy is in the tank, we live with a 60 cent dollar and spend all our time complaining about Trump. The Kool Aide flows on in endless streams.
It has become so bad that in fact, now, at the Federal level, one is no longer allowed to even run for office unless one agrees in advance, in writing, to support killing babies and seniors and other “less desirable” people as required, in the name of “Woman’s Health” or “Quality of Life” or whatever the meme du jour happens to be this week. And yet, God loves them all ….
And no-one sees a problem with that … “Kristallnacht” anyone? How did we get here? Doesn’t ANYONE understand that decisions and actions have consequences?
Maybe this is all just egotistical pontification, I am in love with my opinion, my version. What has this to do with Remembrance Day.
Maybe it’s because there is a huge disconnect between the people who died walking the walk for us, and the talking heads preaching and speechifying with the flash’s popping at the microphone. Funny thing how Christians in general and Catholics in particular are every gutless pseudo-intellectual non-believer’s favorite target. I would be astounded to see any of the usual suspects running down Muslims publicly.
“Je Suis Charlie”, right? Color me amazed at the sheer overwhelming unashamed hypocrisy of the whole damned lot of them. There are, obviously, individuals and groups who still misuse religion as a reason for violent behavior, but modern nation states don’t need religion as an excuse for going to war. Every major war in the last 300 years has been fought by nation states, not by the church. (death toll so far: 251.53 million conservative estimate and counting). And yet God loves them all … the politicians, the protestors, the profiteers, the bureaucrats, the civilians, and all the uniformed guys and gals sacrificing for the good of the many. God loves them all …
In America’s history alone, the 4 year re-conquest of the secessionist states in the Civil War with a death toll of more than 620,000 killed and millions more injured, was a far bloodier event than the several hundred years of re-conquest of the Holy Land by the now despised Crusaders. Current estimates found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_war. place the highest estimated death toll for Christian religious wars at 18-20 million dead from all causes including civilian deaths from famine and disease, genocides and massacres.
The lowest estimate is about 5 to 6 million. It would seem that, whatever one’s views, reality lies somewhere in between, given the extraordinary range reported and the probable biases of the reporters depending on their religious or non-religious views. But even taking the highest estimates as veritable they are still dwarfed by the death tole inflicted by the godless progressive secular state and it’s multitude of minions in all it’s wars.
The state apparatus for investigating civilians now is far more extensive than anything dreamed up by the Spanish Inquisition, although both were created to serve the same purpose: to preserve a government’s public ideology and control of society, whether based on religion or on modern constitutional order.
Analogies can easily be multiplied, if one wants to push a thesis; but the point is that the greatest threat to world peace and international justice is the nation state gone bad, claiming an absolute power, deciding questions and making “laws” beyond its competence. And yet, God loves them all …
And so we find ourselves surrounded and vastly outnumbered by the howling savages and zombies of the moral apocalypse, a kind of last ditch Fort Apache, and like others in history, sometimes you reach a place where you just have to stand and deliver.
I wear my Poppy to remind me of the generations wiped out by an insidious evil flowing through the rivers of self interest in the hearts of our secular masters who believe sacrifice is only for the other guy, the little guy, the suckers that the figureheads talk about at their Remembrance Day photo ops. And yet, God loves them all …
And I thank God this whole miserable world is just a way-station, just boot camp, our Arrakis, created to train the Faithful. On Sunday at Mass, I thought about Boy Trudeau, Red Rachel, and all the rest and said a prayer for them, and for our Pope and the Cardinals and Bishops.
Because, still, God loves them all … and the Supreme Commander’s Standing Orders are: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This. Is. Hard. But then, just when the bitterness seems overwhelming … an answer comes. I just opened a letter, turns out to be from the grandparents of one of the children I support in the Ukraine. Their daughter, the kid’s mother, just died of cancer and now, with both mum and dad dead, the grandparents have all the children to look after. This is really what the whole point of life is, all us little people, sacrificing for the good of the other, to will the good of the other. No matter what. And I cry.
2 hear this, you who govern great populations, taking pride in your hosts of subject nations!
3 For sovereignty is given to you by the Lord and power by the Most High, who will himself probe your acts and scrutinize your intentions.
4 If therefore, as servants of his kingdom, you have not ruled justly nor observed the law, nor followed the will of God,
5 he will fall on you swiftly and terribly. On the highly placed a ruthless judgement falls;
6 the lowly are pardoned, out of pity, but the mighty will be mightily tormented.
7 For the Lord of all does not cower before anyone, he does not stand in awe of greatness, since he himself has made small and great and provides for all alike;
8 but a searching trial awaits those who wield power.
9 So, monarchs, my words are meant for you, so that you may learn wisdom and not fall into error;
10 for those who in holiness observe holy things will be adjudged holy, and, accepting instruction from them, will find their defense in them.
11 Set your heart, therefore, on what I have to say, listen with a will, and you will be instructed.
Mind The Step!