Poetry (Anzac Day): In Flanders Field by John McCrae

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.

Poetry (Anzac Day): For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

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 their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at 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.

The minute of silence: how hard can it be to show some respect?

To say my blood boiled on Thursday when I heard not once but twice at televised sporting events held to commemorate ANZAC Day that some sports fans could not restrain themselves from making a spectacle of themselves during the minute of silence would be an understatement. I mean: how hard can it be to show some common decency and respect for those that have fallen to protect our way of life and shut your mouth for 60 seconds? I do not care whether these people, I guess I am forced to call them people because maybe calling them scum is too harsh, thought they were being funny or were inebriated or simply were just trying to look hard in front of their mates or a combination of all three there is simply no excuse for such conduct. For the record (assuming you can read): you are not funny, you are not hard and you are a disrespectful idiot if you are one of those who breaks the silence during a minute of silence.

I can not understand what makes someone conduct themselves in such a fashion on the solemnest of days. This is not a “back in my day rant” nor am I going to blame the “younger generation”. Simply put, I am left to wonder whether times have changed so much that a group of people who have come together to commemorate one of our most important days of remembrance simply can not remain quiet during the most important part of said remembrance?

The lack of respect shown by those who hoot and holler during the minute of silence and, indeed, during the silences that form part of the last post and those who reply to them in kind just baffles me. It would be easy to say that the police should simply throw the offenders out but in a crowd of some 40,000 or 90,000 that is never going to be possible. Vigilante action against those who break the silence is not appropriate (no matter how good it might feel) because all that would lead to is an assault charge and an escort from the ground. Are we at the point as a society where we are going to have to decide whether we should hold such sporting commemorations on ANZAC Day?

You can not tell me that those who deigned to denigrate the minute of silence with their shenanigans would have done so at a dawn service or at any other service to commemorate the ANZACs. It seems to me that maybe the answer to ensure that due respect is shown for those who have fallen defending this nation and those who continue to still fight for us is to cease the ANZAC day ceremonial part of the sporting events held on that day. I know this smacks of punishing the many because of the conduct of the few but if people can not show due respect at such events they should not be given the opportunity to ruin it for everyone else.

I confess that I have heard such appalling conduct take place on other occasions when a minute of silence has been sought to commemorate the passing of a dignitary or in memorial after a disaster of some description and whilst I have also been appalled on those occasions I have never really turned my mind to the lack of respect it shows to those being memorialized. I hope we are not at the point where a minute of silence can never be mooted at a sporting event again however the hand wringing that followed the passing of Baroness Thatcher and some proposed minutes of silence suggests that we may very well be already be there.

I have written previously about my disdain for those who do not sing our national anthem nor stand and remove their hat for same (https://shumpty77.com/2012/06/11/i-love-my-country-and-i-will-sing-our-national-anthem-why-wont-you/) and I feel similarly strongly about those who conduct themselves in the appalling fashion that we saw on Thursday as must be obvious from the foregoing. I hope one day we can get back to a place and time where a minute of silence can be observed without a “person” showing a callous lack of respect by breaking the silence.

Anzac Day: For the Fallen

They shall go 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.

These words are from the 4th stanza of Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen” which was first published in The Times in September 1914. Traditionally the words “Lest we forget” are added at the end of the stanza.

The importance of these words of remembrance is obvious. In theatres of war throughout the world young Australian and New Zealand men have perished protecting their country, their dominion and our way of life. The poignancy of words spoken in remembrance of those that have fallen lose no meaning and depth as the years pass.

Australians, New Zealanders and soldiers from countries around the world continue to be engaged in conflict around the world and continue to fall. Their sacrifice and that of those who have preceded them will never be forgotten.

It is also important on this day, and every day for that matter, to remember those who return from war but are unable to return to their life before they left due to injury and illness including mental illness. We must not forget them either.

On this most solemn of days of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand I finish by repeating the last stanza of “For the Fallen”:

They shall go 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.