Thursday, 26 April 2007
Neither sweet, nor fitting.
Yesterday was ANZAC Day in Australia; a day to commemorate, not celebrate, the heroic lives and senseless deaths of our soldiers. Notably in the Dardanelles campaign in Turkey, but in reality all postings in all wars. I went to Gallipoli, on the Dardanelles, before it was the media circus and obligatory politicians stop-over that it is today. I stood on the beach, Anzac Cove, and looked at the hills around it.
On each and every hill was a small white marker surrounded by a wrought iron fence. On each marker was a plaque that said words to the effect "At this site are buried the bodies of xxx soldiers of the British Empire. The names of x are known. They were..."
I use xxx and x because the numbers were usually in the hundreds, the names usually less than ten.
I wont go into my thoughts on the folly of war but suffice to say I have no respect for the Galahs we have for politicians who sent young men to such senseless deaths.
In the same war, a British poet called Wilfred Owen wrote about what he saw. His poem, called Dulce et decorum est may be read here.
The full quote that gives the poem its title is Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. ("It is a sweet and fitting thing to die for your country".)
Sadly Wilfred Own was shot on one of the last days of WW1.