Friday, November 12, 2010
I drop out of society every year on Remembrance Day because I hate it. Before you judge me as cold hearted, please hear me out.
First of all, my grandfather fought in WWII. He was one of the lucky ones who came home alive. We have no idea what happened while he was fighting because he never spoke about it up to the day he died. It's obvious to me that he didn't want to remember. My hubby's grandfather also fought in WWII and was a POW for a large portion of the war. He was also lucky to make it home alive. He does talk about it and the things he tells us are atrocious. I love both of these men intensely and I honour them, not for their forced war efforts, but for the men that were/are.
I have quite a few relatives who have voluntarily joined the military. I respect their choices as I respect them. I don't really know what any of them have done in this capacity because I don't ask. It terrifies me to think that these men would put themselves in harms way and even worse that they would be willing to take the life of another human being without even knowing their name.
Now we're getting more into the reason that I hate Remembrance Day. It all began with public school assemblies. Every year we would be herded into the gymnasium, all wearing our red poppies, where someone would recite "In Flanders Fields" and someone would play "Reveille" either live or via recording and we would sit still for 2 minutes of silence. If it had stopped there, I probably wouldn't feel the way I do today, but it didn't. There were also films. Some were just people talking or watered down animated shorts. I remember one stop-motion short where the toys in a toy store window start a war with each other. It was a fairly creative approach for younger kids to show the destruction of war. But once again, they didn't stop there. They also showed what must have been news reels from war time in which actual men were killed by guns and landmines. I vividly remember the men being hit and slumping to the ground or being thrown by the mine explosions, all while other men ran past them with their guns intent on killing someone else. From the age of 6, every frakking year they made me watch men kill each other. Is it any wonder I have been traumatized? Once I hit high school, where the walk to the auditorium was no longer supervised, I began disappearing before the assemblies. Thus began my annual disappearance.
The messages that I got from these assemblies seemed mixed up to me. War is horrible - Yes, I can agree with that, absolutely. War is necessary - I still can't buy into that. Killing people and dying for your country is worthy of honour - This is another one I have trouble with. For one thing it glorifies killing people you don't even know. For most of the wars in our past, the vast majority of our soldiers were drafted, meaning that they didn't necessarily want to fight or even believe in the cause. It was a case of get out there and kill strangers or face the consequences. If that was the case here, where we place such high value on "freedom", then I think it's safe to say that it was the same or worse for the other side. Which makes me wonder how many people killed and/or were killed who didn't even believe in what they were killing over.
Remembering obviously isn't doing the trick since we are still sending men and women out to war zones. If the grown ups of the world can't figure this out, then how will we ever be done with war? I, for one, will continue my November disappearing act until war is only something to be remembered.