I will confess to not attending the dawn service in person today. I watched the televised one instead. Then I spent the next two hours watching the documentary Revealing Gallipoli. It was eye-opening and moving. It is also a reminder of what bloody useless decision-making in high places can end up doing to ordinary people all over the world.
I wrote a small piece about Anzac Day last year and mentioned Wilfred Owen’s poetry and I added links to what I think of as his most evocative poems.
I thought I would reproduce Futility to mark this year’s service.
Move him into the sun-
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.
Think how it wakes the seeds-
Woke once the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, still warm, too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
-O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?
– Wilfred Owen
And to close, the fourth verse of ‘For the Fallen’:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
We shouldn’t forget what others have suffered and for what reasons, it can only lead to self-absorption and mistakes repeated time and again. (Okay, so I am fighting against multiple millennia of ingrained and documented human stupidity with that statement, but you need to have hope.)
Lest we forget.