Friday, November 11, 2011

Scarce Heard Amid the Guns Below.

 • • • • •

This post is my contribution to Veteran's Affairs Remembrance Challenge.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
-Lt. Colonel John McCrae 

• • • • •

In 1989 my grade 11 drama class wrote an original play for Remembrance Day. In those pre-internet days, facts about John McCrae were hard to come by. We used the scant details we knew of McCrae's life as the framework for a 45 minute long melodrama. I don't remember very much -- no doubt this is a self-defense mechanism -- other than I played a nurse in one scene and the role of McCrae was performed by the only boy in the class.  The play's legacy for me is that I love In Flanders Fields. 

That was the last year I viewed Canada's participation in war as the stuff of history textbooks and television shows. With Canada's involvement in the Gulf War, war became reality.

My sons are 9 and 7. For their entire life times, Canadian soldiers have been deployed in Afghanistan. They have only ever known a Canada that is at war. We tell Zarf and Klaxon the truth: the government in Afghanistan was cruel to their citizens and western nations are working to ensure that the people of Afghanistan (regardless of sex, religion, or social class) enjoy the freedoms we have in Canada.

I've stared at the last paragraph for almost 20 minutes. Those words seep into my brain and make my fingers thrum with the anxiety of how far removed my childhood is from that of Zarf and Klaxon. But maybe they are better off dealing with the idea of war in a far off corner of the world, than with the fear of nuclear proliferation which defined my youth? 

Only time will tell...


  1. That gave me a real chill. I remember exactly when the Gulf War started, I remember that exact day.