Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I'm in the throes of wrapping up my first quarter of classes, but take some time off of your Memorial Day to flip through some of these photos taken during World War I of soldiers of the British Empire as they prepare for one of the longest and bloodiest battles in recorded history.

Which isn't to say that they're particularly sad or harrowing, but they are worth taking a look at, especially considering that they've been sitting in a French barn for the past 90 years and that next to nothing is known about them.

For me, I can only look at them and see these people, most of whom were probably younger than I am now when these were taken and many of whom were probably dead 6 months later, these people trying to retain something of themselves in what could only have been miserable conditions. They pose proudly, sometimes smiling, sometimes with local children, putting on a brave face to send back home to their parents or sweethearts or friends.

WWI both fascinates and terrifies me. It conjures the images placed there by people like Owen and Remarque, these horrific images of panic and weariness and death. this is a war in which modern warfare was born, and largely without the sister development of modern medicine that is supposed to accompany it. Never a good combination.

I've never been stupid enough to think I could hack it in a war. But if there is indeed a war that scares me above all others, this is it. War has never been sensible. But as hard to believe, I think it has only gotten more sensible.

Stop and remember that people are dead today. You don't have to agree with their cause or their government. you don't have to pick someone from your country. You don't have to pick the winners or the losers. But just think for a second that millions and millions of people have died for causes that are forgotten by most today. You don't have to remember them. But at least stop and think of them for a minute. It's the least they've earned.


Jonathan said...

hell of a post.

Sarah said...

second that.