Lest we forget

I remember having to learn at school some of the words of Robert Laurence Binyon’s poem which included the immortal words:

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.

One of the most poignant reminders of World War I is the moving poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’, written by John McCrae, a Canadian army doctor, following the death of his close friend and compatriot Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. Helmer was killed on 2 May 1915 when a shell exploded during the second German gas attack. In the absence of a chaplain, McCrae conducted the funeral service for his friend himself. Grief and the trauma of war inspired his poem.  John McCrae unfortunately did not survive the war.

However, one poem is “My Boy Jack” written by Rudyard Kipling, the most famous author of the age, for his only son who was killed at Loos on the Western Front in September 2015.

John, for whom he had written his best-loved poem, If, had been killed in the action just six weeks after his 18th birthday. “My Boy Jack” has also been set to music with a poignant backdrop.

Remembrance Day or Armistice Day is a Memorial Day observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty in all wars.

It commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at 11:00 am—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month."

As John McCrae warns us of our responsibility not to forget:

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.

Lest We Forget