“The Souls of the Righteous are in the Hands of God”

11 Nov

An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind. Mahatma Gandhi

Today is 11/11/2011 and marks a special day, Armistice Day. Some people call it Remembrance Day, but it’s the day that the First World War ended. We remember not only the soldiers that gave their lives for us in the First World War, but soldiers who fought and are still fighting in conflicts across the world, some as young as fifteen or sixteen, entering into battles that they knew nothing about, and giving their lives for the protection of the rest of us. It’s a pretty humbling thought really, isn’t it?  As a girl who grew up with both grandfathers and great grandfathers serving in the Navy, and cousins and uncles in the RAF, it’s a special day for me. I remember being a little girl when my great grandfather was still alive, and him being sat on the sofa all the time in my great grandmother’s little Victorian terraced house in the Midlands, and always being uncomfortable because of the shrapnel in his legs, from The Second World War. I also remember going to church with my granny and remembering her dad who was killed when she was five years old when his ship was attacked. Even at that age, it’s a sad thought that someone you love could feel so much pain.

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” -Elmer Davis

Both my grandfathers are too young to have been in that war, but they served on ships across the world and have interesting stories to tell. With the Iraq unrest and more recently, Afghanistan, our forces efforts are always in our minds and touching us. My friend Dan is a soldier and despite him being a bit of a joker, I commend the bravery of boys like him who sign up for the forces. He might have called me drunk at 4am this morning to tell me he loved me and I reminded him of a penguin (don’t ask, he’s mental) and woken me up, but I can’t be cross today.  It might be peaceful now, but who knows what’s round the corner? My little sister used to be in the air cadets and a guy who she knew well later became a soldier. He died a few years ago.

“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?’” -Eve Merriam

I very rarely get really angry, but it upsets me greatly when people talk through the silence. Its two minutes of your life to show your respect to the boys who laid down their lives for our liberty; sons, husbands and fathers who left their families never to return, to protect the freedom that we take for granted these days. Without those brave men, our lives might be completely different, and it disgusts me that people can’t spare a mere one hundred and twenty seconds to show some respect to their elders. There has been a recent uproar here in the UK as FIFA (the football association) have banned the wearing of poppies by football players at games, which I think is terrible. These governing bodies need to recognise that as a country we want to pay our respects, and we wear our poppies with pride. The poppy is synonymous with the appeal as it is a flower that can grow in the most barren conditions, and this year is extra special as it marks the ninetieth year of the appeal.

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” -Cynthia Ozick

I have had the chance to visit Ypres and see the trenches for myself, and it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. With a tour guide, we walked the tunnels that the soldiers lived in and stood on No Man’s Land; the grass between the soldiers and the enemy where bullets and grenades would have flown. We stood in the trenches and imagined the fear of the boys fighting for our protection, side by side not knowing if they would see the sun rise the following day. It was a chilling and sombre day, and a surreal experience to stand in silence with strangers, looking at row upon row of white crosses, marking the resting place of sons and fathers.

I wear my poppy with pride. Do you?

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35 Responses to ““The Souls of the Righteous are in the Hands of God””

  1. thesweetkitten November 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    Hello,

    Usually, your posts make me laugh, so it was quite a surprise to read something completely different from you.
    Here in Belgium, we remember 11/11 too, there are official ceremonies all over the country. My great-grandfather never talked about WWI, but we know that he was a soldier about that time. My grand-parents were more affected by WWII; one of them even spent some time in Auschwitz.
    We are currently doing some research for future posts on our blog: we want to visit the last traces of WWI in Belgium. And by the way, Ypres is not in France, but in Belgium :-)

  2. winsomebella November 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Very touching and beautiful. Silence spreads around the world until the child can ask that question. Thank you for a lovely moment of remembrance.

  3. 57andrew November 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Beautifully written. Have you read “goodbye to all that” by Robert Graves? Recommended.

  4. thehomeheart November 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Brilliant post. Very reverent and sobering words for remembering what today is all about. I would love to post a link to this on my blog.

  5. suzydurband November 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Very nice! Love this post!

  6. twindaddy November 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    I love the way you eloquently express your thoughts. You are truly gifted and I wish I could write as well and as easily as you seem to.

    Great post! We should never, ever forget those who gave us the freedom we enjoy today. Over here in the US its called Veterans Day, and we salute those in our military that have fought for our freedom.

  7. patricemj November 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    This was lovely. I cried a bit while my dog sat at my feet eating his breakfast.

  8. Just A Smidgen November 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    My grandfather also flew a plane in the war.. definitely will be wearing a poppy today. Thanks for your touching blog.

  9. susielindau November 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I didn’t know anything about the poppy nor was I aware that Veteran’s Day was celebrated world-wide. How cool is that?
    Great post!

  10. Tori Nelson November 11, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    This post is beautiful, and that quote from Eve Merriam just broke my heart into a million pieces. It’s a sad thing when a world without war seems bizarre.

  11. coachrahul November 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Very touching and beautiful.

  12. Jennifer November 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Hey! Thank you for a great post! I’m getting ready to post my 11/11/2011 post as well. :) Nothing that I had in mind with such sweet words for the men fighting for our country though. May God truly bless them and bring this country back to it’s true freedom. Also, thank you for stopping by my blog. I appreciate it! :D Have a great weekend.

    Jenny~

  13. Dianda November 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Nice post! :)

  14. pharphelonus November 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Well said. We often forget, I think, that people who went to war, and were shot at, and shot back, and maybe killed, live with those scars of responsibility, too. It’s surely easier to do what you are told you need to than to ignore what that meant.

  15. Anne Schilde November 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Stirring post, Tink. Armistice/Remembrance/Veterans Day happens to be my birthday, so for me it’s always been kind of a weird day full of mixed feelings. I guess today’s not going to be any different. :) WWI was a horrible tragedy I’ve written about before. The emotional scars it left on those who survived the trenches are an unimaginable horror that makes me shudder every time I think of it. Thank you for this wonderful tribute.

  16. John HaslettJohn November 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    I am a third generation soldier with my grandfather seriously maimed in the trenches of France in WWI. My father was US Navy and escorted convoys during WW2 and I served proudly in southeast Asia in the 1960′s. As the only surviving soldier in my family I would like to thank you for your message. If I knew where to find a poppy I’d wear it proudly. Thank you for your thoughts.

  17. gojulesgo November 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    This is a beautiful post – your writing, the sentiment and the quotes you chose! I am grateful to all those who fight for peace, and hope one day future generations WILL have to ask, ‘What is war?’

  18. prenin November 11, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Thanks for this reminder hun.

    My poppy is lying on top of my video editing VCR gathering dust because my coat has no place to put it, but still I bought one…

    Love and hugs!

    Prenin.

  19. gingerfightback November 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    I wear the poppy too. Was near Victoria Station at 11 am this morning – all the buses stopped for the two minutes.

  20. sharkables November 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Excellent post. Refreshing to read amidst the sea of 11/11/11 and lucky wish posts today. Thanks for helping us keep things in perspective.

  21. spree November 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Thank you so very much for putting the words together (& so beautifully) to say what is too often left unsaid – that we owe more than we have to those who’ve given their lives to protect ours. It’s partly your life experience that’s given you the depth of heart required to write this lovely tribute! Truly, thank you for remembering, for caring, and for speaking.

  22. Patrick November 12, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    FIFA never banned the poppy, all they did was reinforce a law which has existed for years. Plenty of games have been played on this day and England has never requested to wear poppys before – BANG goes the quiet dignity.

    Did the ‘boys’ of WWI know any less than ‘our boys’ know now about the presence in Afghamnistan? Of course not.

  23. elroyjones November 12, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    As I was reading, I said, “Oh” softly, then another “Oh”. This is lovely.

  24. Kevin November 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Hi. Thank you for finding my blog, so I was able to find yours. This post was absolutely beautiful, right, and so necessary. I do wear my poppy with pride, but it was your quote by Eve Merriam that stopped me and made me think. Sadly, wars are sometimes necessary — but the sacrifice that has been, is, and will be made is so overwhelming. “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.”

  25. lifeintheboomerlane November 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    “We often take for granted the very things that deserve our gratitude.” Powerful words, indeed. Thank you for taking the time to give homage.

  26. Granddad. November 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Good blog Flower! Granny, Auntie Beryl and I attended the ceremony at the cenotaph in the amphitheatre in Tavira – no religeous content, but still quite moving. Keep on blogging!
    Love, Granddad XXX

    • tinkerbelle86 November 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

      its not really about the religious part though is it? Glad you got to go somewhere. Love you lots xx

  27. Gretchen O'Donnell November 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    When I was a child, I remember seeing poppies every year on Nov. 11th at the door of the grocery store, the hardware store, the banks. Now we never seem to see them. I don’t know why this has changed in America, but it’s sad. I spent Nov. 11th, 1986 in London and was amazed to see how much more people seemed to pay attention to the holiday in England, compared to America. My daughter’s 4th grade class had a little program about it, and that was great. If I had a poppy to wear, I would…with pride…and humility.

  28. underwhelmer November 14, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    I had family on both sides of WWI and WWII. I imagine the family reunions were a bit tense at first… lots of angry glares and nervous lip biting.

  29. the island traveler November 14, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I too dream of the day that war is but a memory and everone lives in peace and harmony. I dream of a day that love is not something you learn from books but an expression freely shared by everyone. I dream of the day that happiness is an everday commodity and not something you get a few times in a year. Beautiful post . Very inspiring.

  30. mohanmohan November 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    For a view of World War I and life in the trenches, BlackAdder, Series 4, is terrific. It points out the absurdity of war while honoring those who are most impacted by thoughtless decisions. The humor is biting and to the point, and Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are at their comedic best as they pillory the senseless sacrifice of youth. The ending episode is a terrific anti-war message clothed in duty, honor and courage of the frontline soldier.

  31. Deano November 16, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    Banning the poppy is a disgrace! Great post. I have 2 great great uncles that never returned to Australia from WW1 and lay at rest in France. Lest we forget.

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