Saturday, November 11, 2017

More Reflections on War and Peace on Remembrance Day


Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries.  It is Veterans Day in the United States.  On November 11th, 2010, I posted a short essay about why I wear a poppy on Remembrance Day.  Here is that essay again, along with some quotations on war and peace.  I believe it is especially relevant given the current tensions in the world and the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Why I Wear a Poppy on Remembrance Day

Without equivocation, I believe that war is an abomination, a blight upon humanity. Yet every Remembrance Day, I wear a bright red poppy. Here's why. I wear a poppy to honour the memory of those who have suffered and died in war. I also wear it to remind myself of the folly and futility of war. Yes, war may sometimes be necessary to rid the world of a scourge such as Nazism. It may be the only recourse to overcome a madman like Adolf Hitler. However, there is no glamour in war, only hardship, poverty and death. It is not glorious and it is not adventurous. It is unspeakably brutal and it takes the lives of innocent people. It causes untold destruction and it cruelly separates families. It forces its victims away from their homes and into refugee camps. In times of war, the innocent are the most vulnerable and they always suffer the most.

I wear a poppy for those who died in the muddy trenches World War I. The “Great War” was an ugly and unnecessary war. When it began in August of 1914, many thought it would be a grand adventure and that the troops would be home by Christmas. They didn’t realize that such a great number of those eager, youthful combatants would never see their homes again. Sadly, those young people went to war and died because their countries were engaged in a battle for colonies and for military and economic superiority. What a waste of human potential!

I wear a poppy for the victims of World War II and Korea and Vietnam. I wear it for those who suffered under Nazism and fascism and for those who sacrificed their lives to end the reign of those cursed ideologies. I wear it for the victims of Stalin and Mao and all those who currently live under totalitarianism and dictatorship.

I wear a poppy to remember all the women who have been violated by soldiers during wartime. I wear it for the 6 million who perished in the Holocaust and for all the victims of genocide. I wear it for the 300,000 who died in Nanking in 1937 and I wear it for those who lost their lives when the deadly atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wear it for the victims of Pol Pot and his killing fields. I wear it for the children of war, the babes in arms who begin their lives in poverty and horror. I wear it for the orphans and widows of war. They suffer because the military-industrial complex and arms dealers throughout the world have a vested interest in war. Without it, they would not be so affluent. Their money would be spent on education, health care and the alleviation of poverty.

I wear a poppy to remember the mistakes of history. This is an imperfect world and humans are imperfect creatures. Evil exists and it will take root and spread if we allow it to do so. The only answer is to educate the world's youth so that they will not support another Adolf Hitler. We must make certain that young people are well-versed in history and that they know the truth about war, genocide and extremism of both the right-wing and the left-wing variety. They must be made aware that extremism leads to death, misery and totalitarianism.

I wear a poppy for the all the victims of terrorism and for their families. I wear it to remember those who perished on September 11, 2001. I wear it for all those who have been maimed and broken by war, both physically and psychologically. I wear it for those who lack basic human rights. I will not forget. On this November 11th and every November 11th, I will remember them all and I will hope for peace.


QUOTATIONS ON WAR AND PEACE

Older men declare war.  But it is the youth who must fight and die.

- Herbert Hoover
Speech at the Republican National Convention, Chicago, June 27, 1944


I have never met anyone who wasn't against war.  Even Hitler and Mussolini were, according to themselves.

David Low (1891-1963), British political cartoonist
From New York Times Magazine, February 10, 1946


History is littered with wars which everybody knew would never happen.

Enoch Powell, (1912-1998), British politician
From his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, October 19, 1967


I have seen war.  I have seen war on land and sea.  I have seen blood running from the wounded.  I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs.  I have seen the dead in the mud.  I have seen cities destroyed.  I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line - the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before.  I ave seen children starving.  I have seen the agony of mothers and wives.  I hate war.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Speech at Chautauqua, New York, August 14, 1936


The absolute pacifist is a bad citizen; times come when force must be used to uphold right, justice and ideals.

- Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)


What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

- Mahatma Gandhi
From Non-Violence in Peace and War [1942]


There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.

- William T. Sherman, American Union general
From his speech at Columbus, Ohio, August 11, 1880


Peace can not be kept by force.  It can only be achieved by understanding.

Albert Einstein


Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of it scientists, the hopes of its children . . . This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  Under the cloud of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1953


War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), Prussian soldier and military theorist
From On War   


You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.

Malcolm X
Speech in New York, January 7, 1965


War appears to be as old as mankind, but peace is a modern invention.

Henry Maine (1822-1888), English jurist
From lecture delivered in Cambridge, 1887, in International Law [1888]


You can't switch on peace like a light.

- Mo Mowlam (1949-2005), British politician
From Independent, September 6, 1999


Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.

- Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch Jewish philosopher
From Theological-Political Treatise [1670]


They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

- Isaiah 2:4



- Joanne

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