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John Sedgwick
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Lest We Forget

Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:54 am

Next Friday is Remembrance Day, so I thought I'd start a thread for people to share their thoughts and honour those who fell, and those who lived to tell the tale - lest we forget.

AGEod's operational wargames have provided me with many hours of enjoyment, but every now and then, my thoughts turn to the dreadful events on which they are based, and think: there but for the grace of God go I. The reality of war is an intense physical and psychological trauma that kills, maims, and wounds indiscriminately, leaving its surviving victims scarred for life.

A few months back, I wrote a song with the intention of performing it for Remembrance Day ceremonies, which I will be doing next week at the local public school. I had a number of things in mind when I wrote it: Canada's last WW1 veteran died in February of 2010, which led me to wonder if I'd live to see the last WW2 veteran pass away; I pondered the concept of a "Just War," whether something so evil could ever be good, and concluded that WW2 came closest to meeting that criterion in recent memory; I thought about veterans being reunited in heaven, and wondered what they would say to each other; I wanted to address the phenomenon of survivor's guilt, to talk tactfully about things veteran never talk about, either out of humility, or because the memories are too painful, or because they are no longer with us; most of all, I wanted to show the kids a fictional glimpse into the mind of my imagined veteran - that behind the medals they carry on their chests, lie hearts carrying memories of a burden they bore in the hopes that their children's children would never have to experience war again.

So without further ado, I'd like to share it with all. It's called Billy, or, Things I'll Never Speak Of.


* * *

We did not come to conquer, we came to liberate
We fought not for fighting's sake, but to restore a peaceful state
We lived each day like it was our last, for it very well could be
We fought and died in foreign lands so others could live free

Looking back on my life's journey, I do not feel regret.
Each year I pin the poppy on, I'm proud to be a vet.
But I saw some things I'll never speak of - or at least, not yet.

Billy's death was one of them - I'll take it to my grave,
the nature of his sacrifice and the life he died to save.
I lost a lot of good friends, but I pray that some fine day,
we'll meet once more at heaven's door, when I have passed away.

Well, time came to meet my maker; shook his hand, and by and by
I saw my old friend Billy, but could not look him in the eye.
"Bill," I said, "when you were dead, I thought it such a shame
that I survived the war, while better men, like you, were slain."

Bill shook his head, he grinned and said, "Well, I don't feel the same,
'cause the shell that took my life brought an end to all my pain.
And I trusted you to see it through, so I did not die in vain."

"And as I watched from up above, what filled my heart with glee,
was not that I was thought a hero, or any o'er name they called me,
t'was not the cheers, the sighs and tears, on the day of victory,
but to see my child through the years, grow up strong and free -
that's what made it all... worth the while to me."

We did not come to conquer, we came to liberate
We fought not for fighting's sake, but to restore a peaceful state
We lived each day like it was our last, for it very well could be
We fought and died in foreign lands so others could live free
"I'm ashamed of you, dodging that way. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."ImageImage
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deguerra
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Fri Nov 04, 2011 5:09 am

That's very touching, thanks for sharing. Obviously, it's not quite the same without having the music to accompany it, but certainly the lyrics are quite hauntingly beautiful.

I agree with your general sentiments regarding games such as AGEOD's. I play them for fun, I derive much joy out of them. They give us an opportunity to experience some of why Lee thought it was possible to grow too fond of war, without having to give thought to the terrible which ultimately prevents almost all of have any experience of real war from doing so. Yet whenever that terrible does sneak into my thoughts, it gives me pause. I've often had discussion with my father, who dislikes such games for trivializing the reality of the situations they represent - I on the other hand continue to think that they could not exist as games without trivializing, and that despite it, they have the potential to give us those moments in which they make us realize some small part of the terror of war. I think those small moments may profoundly affect those who experience them. I hope they do.

With regards to WW2, my grandfather fought as the gunner in a German tank from the invasion of France up until the final Battle of Berlin, and spent the next five years as a Soviet prisoner of war. When you speak of a "Just War" you obviously refer to the Allied war on Germany (rather than the German war) and I agree that this probably comes closest. Certainly I am grateful that it happened.

But as it is Remembrance Day, and as I feel it should (and does) commemorate all who fell and lived on all the sides, it must be said that though its cause was as close to 'Just' as perhaps possible, such justice will not make a modicum of difference to those who experience it. My grandfather was neither hateful, nor warlike, nor a member of the Nazi party (what his views prior to the war were I cannot say, but by its end he was certainly disabused of any affection for those who had put him through it). He volunteered to join the tank forces because he was too lazy to walk, and didn't want to get conscripted into the infantry. He said he made it through because he was one of the little tough ones. He was happier than most to talk about and recount his experiences, but to the day he died in 2006, doing so brought tears to his eyes. I admire him not not for any deed or thought or belief, but because he emerged from that hell as a decent, loving and kind human being.

I hope he, and those who fell and lived beside, around and against him are never forgotten.

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John Sedgwick
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Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:54 am

Thank you very much for your comments, deguerra - they were very poignant. Though my song was tailored for an audience of Canadian school children, the lives of those on all sides will certainly be in my thoughts when I observe a moment of silence on 11 November. When I preface this song, I will be sure to point out that the vast majority of German soldiers in WW2 were not card-carrying Nazis, but conscripts told to defend the fatherland. What makes war so terrible is that, even in a so-called "Just War" you aren't fighting videogame villains, but fellow human beings, whatever dehumanizing euphemisms we may use to obscure that essential fact.

This reminds me of an amusing story that has stuck with me from my schooldays, told by a WW2 vet, who narrowly escaped the Dieppe raid only to be captured during the liberation of Holland. He was in a small group being led away from the front, when he witnessed the following exchange between a fellow prisoner and a German soldier who spoke English. The German remarked that the Canadians were kinda like the British S.S., because they were given all the really hard jobs. Well, the Canadian wasn't flattered by this comparison, taking it as an insult, and spat on his captor. When a second German soldier expressed some outrage on his comrade's behalf, the English-speaking soldier laughed it off and even apologized to the Canadian, explaining that the regular German army hated the Waffen S.S. too!
"I'm ashamed of you, dodging that way. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."ImageImage

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Ben Waterhouse
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Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:41 pm

[CENTER]In Memory of
Corporal JAMES LOMAS

3782881, 1st Bn., South Lancashire Regiment
who died age 22
on 27 June 1944
Son of Arthur and Frances Lomas, of Heaton Norris, Stockport, Cheshire.
Remembered with honour
LA DELIVRANDE WAR CEMETERY, DOUVRES

Commemorated in perpetuity by
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission [/CENTER]

My Brother in Law.

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lodilefty
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Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:49 pm

[SIZE="3"]"The noblest fate that a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and the war's desolation."[/size]

...and in today's world, we should add [SIZE="3"][color="Red"]"...or a woman..."[/color][/size]

I salute all who have served, and especially those who have given all that one can give. :coeurs:
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ERISS
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Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:21 pm

John Sedgwick wrote: the regular German army hated the Waffen S.S. too!

For Hitler was enough smart to put in the Werchmarcht all not dangerous german opponents to the Nazis. Shy opponents to Hitler could be happy to be in Wermacht where they had the more freedom than in civil life, than being in work camps or worst.

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John Sedgwick
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Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:37 pm

I had never considered that angle, thank you for that insight, ERISS. The Nazis were certainly masters of the divide and conquer strategy when it came to their political opponents - how tragically ironic that they put some of them to work doing their conquering.
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Ethan
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Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:32 am

Wonderful words to honor the brave men and women who gave their lives fighting to achieve a more just world. :love:

Thank you, John. :hat:
[color="Navy"][font="Georgia"]"Mi grandeza no reside en no haber caído nunca, sino en haberme levantado siempre". Napoleón Bonaparte.[/font][/color]

[color="Blue"]Same Land. Different Dreams. - Photobook[/color]

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Ethan
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Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:32 am

John Sedgwick wrote:Next Friday is Remembrance Day, so I thought I'd start a thread for people to share their thoughts and honour those who fell, and those who lived to tell the tale - lest we forget.

AGEod's operational wargames have provided me with many hours of enjoyment, but every now and then, my thoughts turn to the dreadful events on which they are based, and think: there but for the grace of God go I. The reality of war is an intense physical and psychological trauma that kills, maims, and wounds indiscriminately, leaving its surviving victims scarred for life...


Wonderful words to honor the brave men and women who gave their lives fighting to achieve a more just world. :love:

Thank you, John. :hat:
[color="Navy"][font="Georgia"]"Mi grandeza no reside en no haber caído nunca, sino en haberme levantado siempre". Napoleón Bonaparte.[/font][/color]



[color="Blue"]Same Land. Different Dreams. - Photobook[/color]



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Ethan
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Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:34 am

John Sedgwick wrote:Next Friday is Remembrance Day, so I thought I'd start a thread for people to share their thoughts and honour those who fell, and those who lived to tell the tale - lest we forget.

AGEod's operational wargames have provided me with many hours of enjoyment, but every now and then, my thoughts turn to the dreadful events on which they are based, and think: there but for the grace of God go I. The reality of war is an intense physical and psychological trauma that kills, maims, and wounds indiscriminately, leaving its surviving victims scarred for life.

A few months back, I wrote a song with the intention of performing it for Remembrance Day ceremonies, which I will be doing next week at the local public school. I had a number of things in mind when I wrote it: Canada's last WW1 veteran died in February of 2010, which led me to wonder if I'd live to see the last WW2 veteran pass away; I pondered the concept of a "Just War," whether something so evil could ever be good, and concluded that WW2 came closest to meeting that criterion in recent memory; I thought about veterans being reunited in heaven, and wondered what they would say to each other; I wanted to address the phenomenon of survivor's guilt, to talk tactfully about things veteran never talk about, either out of humility, or because the memories are too painful, or because they are no longer with us; most of all, I wanted to show the kids a fictional glimpse into the mind of my imagined veteran - that behind the medals they carry on their chests, lie hearts carrying memories of a burden they bore in the hopes that their children's children would never have to experience war again.

So without further ado, I'd like to share it with all. It's called Billy, or, Things I'll Never Speak Of...


Wonderful words to honor the brave men and women who gave their lives fighting to achieve a more just world. :love:

Thank you, John. :hat:
[color="Navy"][font="Georgia"]"Mi grandeza no reside en no haber caído nunca, sino en haberme levantado siempre". Napoleón Bonaparte.[/font][/color]



[color="Blue"]Same Land. Different Dreams. - Photobook[/color]



[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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ERISS
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Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:33 am

John Sedgwick wrote:The Nazis were certainly masters of the divide and conquer strategy when it came to their political opponents - how tragically ironic that they put some of them to work doing their conquering.

Like allways as poor people go in the Army to please the richers, and go killing other poor people and invade their country for resources.
Often army soldiers hate politics who send them to bring chaos.

About Nazis, they would have been in oblivion and nothingness if they were not first paid by english bankers and heavy german industry. Other german parties were not so heavily financed, as always money makes 'democratic' politics.

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ERISS
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Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:08 pm

I didn't mean to insult all soldiers (I also could about all wage workers, and I am one).
I myself was voluntary to being used by dumb UN in Blue Helmets in ex-Yugoslavia in 1993 April-September (Pancevo, Pleso, Zagreb, Sarajevo).
Here, military had to disobey against no-orders to do duty...
UN resolutions were made just for the show, the politic order was to NOT inforce them.
I think about US soldiers here, there were Military Police (bunch of bully idiots infuriating Yougo locals), and Military Hospital (nice, very good).

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John Sedgwick
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Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:17 pm

Like allways as poor people go in the Army to please the richers, and go killing other poor people and invade their country for resources.
Often army soldiers hate politics who send them to bring chaos.
About Nazis, they would have been in oblivion and nothingness if they were not first paid by english bankers and heavy german industry. Other german parties were not so heavily financed, as always money makes 'democratic' politics.


ERISS - you're preaching to the choir in my case. War is not so much the health of the state as Randolph Bourne wrote, but the health of its central bank for forcing the state to go into debt.

Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say I have some strongly held opinions regarding our current and historical involvement in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, but precisely because so many soldiers hate the politics that create chaos as you say, I figure there are 364 other days to talk about why they were sent there, and it is very important that we do talk about it.

Having said that, you might appreciate another poem I wrote in 2004 called Zombies for Peace:

oh wasted youth, ye battle-dead, i bid you rise!
young boys with bullets in the head between the eyes,
or blown to bits, some never to be found,
bloated corpses we can't e'en recognize -
return to set things right, ye gory host!
hail heroes from that haunted home, dead men's domain,
your youth the yearly lamb on war's woeful altar slain,
our murd'rous glory is no shining medal,
but a bloody stain
on all our hands.

arise, brothers in arms, ye warrior-dead,
and bring down the banners you once battled behind!
and tear these tattered flags to shreds, and lay our swords to rest,
and hush the tune to which you once marched, and find
aging hawks who would send boys off to their deaths
as mere means to selfish ends - find them,
and point a bony finger
at their bloody hands.
"I'm ashamed of you, dodging that way. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."ImageImage

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ERISS
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Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:54 pm

John Sedgwick wrote:, you might appreciate another poem I wrote in 2004 called Zombies for Peace

I like :) , but you forgot a stanza, about 'doves', which are hawks disguised with peace symbols. I think difference is doves want the war better prepared.

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Aphrodite Mae
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Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:54 pm

John, you've created one of the most substantive threads that I can remember ever reading, on these forums. It deserves a considered response, which I unfortunately don't have time for, today. I will say, though, that your poetry touched me deeply. Thank you!

Lodi, thanks for remembering that we women, too, have served. As always, you're a gentleman that I'm honored to call my friend. :)

Daddy, if you should happen to read this, would you mind sharing that beautiful poem you shared with me a couple of years ago? I believe it was titled, For the Fallen. I'm sorry that I don't have time to look it up right now, myself.

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Le Ricain
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For the Fallen

Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:12 pm

Originally published in The Times on 21 September 1914. The Poem's fourth verse is used extensively during Remembrance celebrations.

FOR THE FALLEN.

by Laurence Binyan

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

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.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
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Colonel C.E. Stanton, aide to A.E.F. commander John 'Black Jack' Pershing, upon the landing of the first US troops in France 1917

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PhilThib
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Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:25 am

Every 11th November I have a strong memory of my grandfather who fought during WW1... and I get a little sad when I realize that the next generations won't even remember this war through past family members...if they even know at all what WW1 was :(
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John Sedgwick
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Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:03 pm

Phil - I too feel a sense of loss on behalf of the younger generation, lacking a living link to that gory cataclysm of western civilization, the "war to end all wars" - but I take heart in the fact that, though most of the men who fought in the first world war are gone, some of their wives will survive them by years. The last Civil War widow lived until 2004, so I expect there will be a few family members left to pass those memories on to their progeny.
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Jim-NC
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Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:04 am

Unfortunately, progeny is not the same as the citizenry at large. The country loses something when the vets are no longer telling their story.

The same thing is happening with the World War II vets. Around here, we do something called the "flight of honor" for them. They get a free trip to the WW II memorial in Washington, and the chance to meet other vets. Both my grandfathers served in that war, and 1 died before my children were born, so they missed out on his stories. We didn't talk to the other one so much, so they don't have any stories from him either. They don't understand the war the way I do/did, because I got to hear the 1st hand stories about being there in the Pacific.
Remember - The beatings will continue until morale improves.
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lodilefty
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Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:08 pm

Local News station:

[ATTACH]16400[/ATTACH]

My feelings exactly! :love:
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Baris
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Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:06 pm

'Youth,
Your first duty is to preserve and to defend Turkish
Independence and the Turkish Republic forever. This is the very
foundation of your existence and your future. This foundation is your most
precious treasure. In the future, too, there may be malevolent people at
home and abroad, who will wish to deprive you of this treasure. If some
day you are compelled to defend your independence and your Republic, you
must not hesitate to weigh the possibilities and circumstances of the
situation before doing your duty. These possibilities and circumstances
may turn out to be extremely unfavourable. The enemies conspiring against
your independence and your Republic may have behind them a victory
unprecedented in the annals of the world. It may be that, by violence and
trickery, all the fortresses of your beloved fatherland may be captured,
all its shipyards occupied, all its armies dispersed and every corner of
the country invaded. And sadder and graver than all these circumstances,
those who hold power within the country may be in error, misguided and
may even be traitors. Furthermore, they may identify personal interests
with the political designs of the invaders. The country may be
impoverished, ruined and exhausted. Youth of Turkey's future, even in
such circumstances it is your duty to save Turkish Independence and the
Republic' said M.Kemal.

Apart from the speech, He informed the next minister (İsmet Pasha in 30 October 1923) that no roads that can be used in 4 seasons, few railroads,80% living in a village,60 % death rate for toddles,3 million people under plague danger, tribe leaders in the east border humiliating peasants and their land, 830 village burned by the enemy , total 114.408 buildings destroyed and 400 000 new immigrants from Greece in the border.
Destruction in the national level in wars can get neglected sometimes by the soldiers who have fought the wars. Civilians does not have military ceremony for sure.

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Dixicrat
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Mon Nov 14, 2011 6:43 pm

Aphrodite Mae wrote:John, you've created one of the most substantive threads that I can remember ever reading, on these forums.


+1

Thanks, John. And also to the other contributors of this thread.

This is a very difficult thread, for me... but I'm really glad that you gentlemen have said what you've said. Again, thanks.

Bill

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Comtedemeighan
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Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:03 am

I'd like to remember the boys who fell at LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany in the battle for the Ia Drang Valley around this time in 1965......
Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem - By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty
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"The army is the true nobility of our country."
-Napoleon III-

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