Black veterans, Asian veterans, LGBT veterans, the poets and writers and artists, medical personnel, conscientious objectors, Bevan Boys, Land Girls, Lumber Jills, the Little Ships that went to Dunkirk, and other groups who get forgotten in the general remembrance. And what about those who fought on the other side, whose memorials just say they lost their lives, not that they laid down their lives for their country.
When so many have been slaughtered,What about all the refugees and civilian casualties? What about all those who were shot for desertion, or died of disease, or from "friendly fire" or accidents? Did they lay down their lives for their country, or did their country lay down their lives without thought of the cost? Let us not treat victory as anything other than a funeral, because the fact that war ever came to seem like the only way to solve a conflict is a cause for mourning. Yes, we must resist oppression and persecution, but let us study peace-mongering ways to do it.
Let us mourn with tears of sorrow,
And treat victory like a funeral.
~ Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 31
Strange Meeting ~ Wilfred Owen
It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,-
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange friend," I said, "here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said that other, "save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also, I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled,
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now . . ."