November is a barren month. Nothing grows, and we have holidays without meaning for most people.
The first is November 11th, Veterans’ Day, formerly Armistice Day. World War I was to be the war to end all wars. It wasn’t. The treaty ending the war prepared the hatred that led to World War II as well as the chaos that is today’s Middle East. The countries — Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia — were created by the Versailles Treaty ending WWI. There’s an aptly named book about the negotiations, “The Peace to End All Peace.”
The poem below was written by Wilfred Owen, an English poet killed one week before the war ended. His death, like many others, is one of the most insanely unjustified in military history. The peace negotiations were already in progress. Why?
What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
There should be an updated version of this poem for the bloody streets of America.
And remember the adage, those who forget history are doomed to relive it.