Today is Remembrance Day, or Veterans’ Day in the USA. Over a century ago, the Great Powers sent their young men to die in the slaughter-pens of the Great War for causes that seem downright absurd now. The measure of the horror of that war is to be found in the fact that NOT ONE of the imperial Powers that started that war, now exists intact and strong as an empire. War is, as we now know and understand, the culmination and ruination of empires.
Since this is indeed Veterans’ Day, I think it is appropriate to celebrate those veterans who read my work and comment here regularly. I am humbled and honoured by your presence and patronage, and I am deeply grateful for the fact that your efforts contributed to the existence of (what USED to be) the greatest country in the world, the United States of America. I lived there for 12 years as a guest, in peace and prosperity, thanks to YOU. I do not and will never forget this fact.
So, to all veterans out there, past and present: THANK YOU.
Now I’m not actually much of a wordsmith. But a certain Poet-Laureate of the British Empire, one Rudyard Kipling, absolutely WAS. So it strikes me as rather fitting to let him take over from here. This is a poem that Kipling wrote to make clear that no compromise with evildoers was possible, in the context of the end of the Great War in 1918. The very same lesson applies to us today. There is NO possible compromise or alliance or peace possible with evil people. Never forget this lesson.
“Justice” by Rudyard Kipling
Across a world where all men grieve
And grieving strive the more,
The great days range like tides and leave
Our dead on every shore.
Heavy the load we undergo,
And our own hands prepare,
If we have parley with the foe,
The load our sons must bear.
Before we loose the word
That bids new worlds to birth,
Needs must we loosen first the sword
Of Justice upon earth;
Or else all else is vain
Since life on earth began,
And the spent world sinks back again
Hopeless of God and Man.
A People and their King
Through ancient sin grown strong,
Because they feared no reckoning
Would set no bound to wrong;
But now their hour is past,
And we who bore it find
Evil Incarnate held at last
To answer to mankind.
For agony and spoil
Of nations beat to dust,
For poisoned air and tortured soil
And cold, commanded lust,
And every secret woe
The shuddering waters saw—
Willed and fulfilled by high and row—
Let them relearn the Law.
That when the dooms are read,
Not high nor low shall say:—
“My haughty or my humble head
Has saved me in this day.”
That, till the end of time,
Their remnant shall recall
Their fathers’ old, confederate crime
Availed them not at all.
That neither schools nor priests,
Nor Kings may build again
A people with the heart of beasts
Made wise concerning men.
Whereby our dead shall sleep
In honour, unbetrayed,
And we in faith and honour keep
That peace for which they paid.
Let’s finish off here with some SABATON: