So what now for Remembrance?

Posted: November 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

american back view burial cemetery

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The first poem I ever wrote on conflict was when I was 12 years old at the height of the cold war in 1985 after watching nuclear documentary Threads which was the seed of me as a writer. Of all the testimonies I have heard or researched many stand out but two of them always reduce me tears because of the sheer tenderness born from the brutality suffered. Soon it will be 100 years until the end of World War One and I want to look at what we have learnt and in terms of remembrance, what now? Where does remembrance go from here. Before World War One let us look at the Napoleonic war where many of the fallen were put in communal pits and buried with a focus more on preventing pestilence than remembering them as predominantly poor people including slaves and immigrants dying for the great thief called Empire.

Once upon a time in Afghanistan there was a village and some soldiers shared their candy with them. There accents made the children laugh and they were welcomed, a connection was made away from the conflict. One day when the soldiers went a sweet wrapper got stuck against a plant and flapped against some thorns alerting someone who laid waste to the village for accepting candy from the enemy. That sweet wrapper in the thorns eventually was freed by the wind and like so many crimes it would get trapped in another bush, and another, and another. This is why remembrance can never and should never be branded. This is a place of opium, of poppies but to remember, to share the way a life was lived and the way a life was taken is to clear the path of thorns?

Here are two of my thorns of hearing of war

Thorn 1 – Hiroshima

One memory I cannot shake is a story of a mother who went to search for her daughters remains in the days following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Unknowingly the mother suffered primary radiation poisoning as she walked through the two-kilometre atomic flats yelling for her daughter. Littered all across the land were lamps of organs spilling out of human shapes, some trod in rib-cages and had to dislodge their feet and the smell was described as metallic and fishy. Eventually she saw a single clogg swaying from a shard of wood. All the clocks were frozen at 8.15am the time of the bomb blast yet this clog swayed like a pendulum for ghosts chiming like glockenspiel against twisted metal pipes. The mother noticed that the knotted fabric and the pattern of the fabric on the clog was that of her kimono. At this point she knew her daughter had no remains, that she was carbonised by the 5000 degree Celsius of heat near ground zero. The clog found her. I think of this account often.

Thorn 2 – To save a body

I can’t talk about this easily it rakes up a deep grave but sometimes soldiers do not save lives, they save bodies so parents can bury their children with dignity. I will say this only, if a mother and father can see the face of their son and kiss it then it is worth risking a life for. Those who do this are heroic but that is a jail of PTSD with no keeper. Soldiers are civilians so help them, give them a job and if they drop the F-bomb in front of a posh customer do not tell them off, protect them like the sharpest most broken pieces of glass that they are. Remember if you touch glass and bleed on it then it becomes stained yet also it is cleaner because you touched it and knew if would hurt you for doing so.

Where do we go from here? I think reconciliation, forgiveness, acceptance and acknowledgement. The folded flags are those who bend over graves mourning their loved ones lost to conflict, refugees, soldiers, the husband of Jo Cox to all the those battles we do not know of and should listen without prejudice to. I will not mention fascists because what is human is all that matters and we are the humans so let us remember and connect regardless of our race, culture and beliefs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. […] will refer to Antony’s own words, taken from his  website, copied below, where he talks about why war, and in particular the atomic bombing of Hiroshima are […]

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