I will only remember them
I will not remember the men with pips Who so easily, through their lips, Send boys and girls to die, As if they were no more than confetti. I will not remember, from these shores, Those who cry out for war, From the safety of their newstand And dispatch box, at which they stand. I will not remember, the parents, proud, Who send their children where the darkening clouds Of war gather over petty squabbles, And boys and girls are sacrificed for futile troubles. I will not remember the pen pushing penny pinchers, Proud to save another pound by cutting inches Off the safety net for the traumatised kids who return from war with PTSD But get little help, support, no home and no safety. I will not remember the old folk with rose tinted eyes, Who read their news from rags soaked with lies, They look back fondly at memories of wars they never had, Then jump on bandwagons and call for blood. No, today I will remember those sacrificed, but not with pride. The futility of it all means I can not hide The sorrow that I feel inside As I know too many lives have unnecessarily died. Though remembering lives wasted in history past Should we not learn to make each war the last? But no, there is not enough profit in living women and men So we have to help the bottom line and do it all again. Paul A N Battye, 11 November, 2021
I remember studying the poetry of Wilfred Owen, a major first world war poet, when I was at school. He was sent to a psychiatric institution (Craiglockhart) where he met fellow poet Siegried Sassoon. Both were suffering from the shock of war but as officer class they were expected to defend it without question. Instead they attacked the horror and futility of war and the generals that sent thousands of young men to their deaths. Sassoon narrowly escaped being court marshalled and shot. Owen was also gay which probably created in him a more sympathetic attitude to their sufferings.
Nowadays, whenever I am asked, I refuse to contribute to ‘Help for Heroes’ or celebrate Remembrance day. I argue instead to campaign against any future wars. Given war is a consitutuent part of capitalism it can only be ended by overthrowing that system and replacing it with a socialist society based on workers control of production, distribution and exchange. That is the only way to guarantee that workers will no longer slaughter other workers in the inevitable power struggles of Imperialist/capitalist powers for world domination.