Sunday, 11 November 2007
For me, Remembrance Day is a time for private reflection, to think of those in my family who were called to defend this country, and pay my respects to them. This is not a day, in my calendar, for great patriotic sentiment, especially because of the origins in the 1918 armistice, the end of a war which destroyed the best part of a generation of this country's men, and for what? It is a day to mourn, not celebrate.
Meanwhile the politicians step slowly in dark suits, bow their heads, stand with moist eyes and talk of the bravery of others, while grieving soldiers' widows live in conditions that would shame a prison, and men who gave their health, if not their lives, scarred physically and mentally, sleep in the streets or in dirty hostels, neglected.
Only today, the papers tell of our Ministry of Defense taking every effort to prolong the case of the Christmas Island atomic bomb test veterans, knowing full well how many have died, able to calculate how many more will die before they finally admit what has been clear since the days of Marie Curie, that radiation causes cancer and other health problems besides. Yet, with disregard for the ex-servicemen who their predecessors exposed to deadly radiation, they field their lawyers to obfuscate, without a shred of decency, and is it not ever the way?
So, let us remember the common soldier, sailor and airman, and their quiet heroism, but also curse the masters of war, for whom we are all just pawns on a chessboard and the politicians mere knights and bishops.