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Monday May 27th 2019Tim Candler9

 

    "Happy Memorial Day! Enjoy free shipping until Wednesday." I'm getting on a little in years, a rolling stone might not have the luxury of gathering a comforting moss but it does gather the green algae of cynicism, so I'm fairly convinced the Sales Department was more motivated by their collection of memories lodged in a history of sales figures issuing directives than it was by a solemn effort to grasp a meaning in Happy Memorial Day. Indeed if you've concluded that evil is real, shopping and war are inevitable, your best bet is to make the most of free shipping because tomorrow who knows you might be doing twelve hour shifts in a munitions factory while your grandchildren are sent off to basic training. "Memorial Day! Free Shipping until Wednesday." Take out the happy and the enjoy, and we might begin to get somewhere.  "This moment of silence is brought to you by Anheuser Busch." No kidding, and you can almost hear the sales department congratulating themselves. At the same time you can't really expect anything like meaning from people who are trying to tickle the dollars out of you, they'll tell you what they think you want to hear which is about as far from a truth as you can possibly get, unless it is all about free shipping and sales, in which case give me a bible, any bible, to cling to.

 

Past

   I remember we'd dress up, rifles and the shiny boots for the poem by Laurence Binyon "..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..." Then there's Herman Wouk: "In the glare, the great and terrible light of this happening, God seems to signal that the story of the rest of us need not end, and that the new light can prove a troubled dawn. For the rest of us, perhaps. Not for the dead. ......For them there can be no new earthly dawn. Yet thought their bones like in the darkness of the grave, they will not have died in vain, if their remembrance can lead us from the long, long time of war to the time for peace."  Wouk's "great and terrible light" was the atom bomb. The bones of the dead from all sides he remembered. And there's the poet Wilfred Owen, who reckoned his company of soldiers "expressionless lumps" until he saw action, was gravely wounded, found comfort in poetry while recovery from shell-shock. Later, sent back to the front line, 2nd Lieutenant Wilfred Owen was killed fighting very bravely on November 4th 1918, exactly one week, almost to the hour, before the Armistice ending the First World War was signed.  "My subject." Owen wrote in an introduction to a book of poems he'd hoped to get published. "Is war and the pity of war. The Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful."

  

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