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Armistice Day, Veterans Day

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

[by Charles Cameron — for the UK, US and others, a day to remember ]


The Great War ended on this date a little short of a century ago, November 11th, 1918. My grandfather, Sir Henry Clayton Darlington, commanded troops at the Hellespont, so for me that war — and the Armistice which ended it — is but one degree of separation from personal memory.

Common British, Canadian, South African, and ANZAC traditions include two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (11:00 am, 11 November), as that marks the time (in the United Kingdom) when armistice became effective.

Poppies grew in the fields of Flanders where so many of our soldiers died, and in the UK poppies are worn in the lapel on this day to remember them. In the words of the Laurence Binyon‘s poem For the Fallen,

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


Small Wars Journal has a history of the various Armistice Day, Veterans Day and Remembrance Day observances.

The poppy pressed between the pages of St Luke’s gospel (image, above) was picked by one Les Forryan, who served with the UK’s Army Service Corps in France and Belgium during the Great War, and the book itself was a “Soldier’s Pocket Testament”, given to him in 1915. The field of poppies and crosses (image, below) was photographed by Brandanno1 in Cardiff, Wales, in 2007. The image of HM Queen Elizabeth II (image, inset) is from a Daily Mail report in 2008.

In memoriam: a tipi and a garden, II

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — Memorial Day, USA ]

2. The garden:


The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the minor Great British Occasions — a stroll in the park with some of the Kingdom’s finest horticulturalists displaying their best, and not usually the place you’d go to be reminded of war, though the show itself does take place in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, the home of the Chelsea Pensioners



It is only appropriate, then, to find this picture of Skippy, a Pensioner from the Korean War, with Korean designer Hwang Ji-hae, whose garden this year won a gold medal for its representation of the DMZ between North and South Korea…



with its abandoned watchtowers and partially overgrown barbed-wire fences…



its bottles, carrying messages from those on one side of the line to friends and family unreachable on the other…



its benches made of wood and dog-tags, its memories…



and the wildflowers that have been taking over the DMZ, reasserting nature’s primacy where men’s wars were fought.


Hwang Ji-hae named her garden Quiet Time: DMZ Forbidden Garden:

This year’s “DMZ Forbidden” garden is “going to be a symbolic place honoring everyone who suffered because of the war,” Hwang said in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily in December in her studio in Gwangju.

The garden is a recreation of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, which has been kept nearly untouched for six decades since the 1953 Armistice Agreement. The zone has become a diverse habitat for various kinds of rare plants and animals.

To Hwang, the DMZ has become the “most beautiful garden on the planet,” though it symbolizes the legacies of the war and the tragic division of the Korean Peninsula at the same time, the artist said in the interview.

“The DMZ was formed organically after a major upheaval. It was created because of the war but is now a symbol of peace.”

According to a press release issued by Hwang’s agency on Tuesday night after winning the prize, 60 percent of the plants in the “DMZ Forbidden” garden are from Korea and some of them are indigenous to the DMZ area.

Hwang said that some of the British veterans of the Korean War she met last year talked about plants they saw in Korea, and they asked her to find them.

“There are six plants that are indigenous to the area near the DMZ, including Geumgang chorong [a type of bellflower], and they will all be part of the garden I’m creating,” she said during the interview in December.

“This is my way of thanking the veterans.”

In memoriam: a tipi and a garden, I

Monday, May 28th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — Memorial Day, USA ]

1. The tipi:


Inside the night, Afghanistan; in Arghandab, Afghanistan, a small American army base; inside the base beside the chapel a tipi; within the tipi photos of the fallen, cigarettes, an open bible, strong bonds, strong memories.



If you look closely, you will see cigarettes offered in front of the photos of the 21 members of 1-17th Infantry Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division who had died here at the time Michael Yon, himself a former Green Beret turned warzone photojournalist, took the series of photos from which these two are taken – and which I urge you to visit this Memorial Day:

Soldiers put cigarettes in front of each photo, though they say that many of the fallen did not smoke.

Kanani Fong, friend of this blog, quotes a Blackfoot warrior’s poem in her comment on Michael Yon’s post:

What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

I don’t think a church bureaucracy has the insight yet, in these non-smoker times, to call a cigarette a sacrament – yet there’s something sacramental about the friendship that comes with the giving of a cigarette to a fellow soldier, wounded and dying. And to my Lakota friends tobacco is a sacrament: a tobacco offering, ground pushing upward into sky, a prayer.

The buffalo too are sacred to the Lakota: it was White Buffalo Calf Woman who brought them the sacred Pipe.

I ask that you visit Michael Yon’s site, and make a small donation to help him keep up the work he’s doing. Just this month he was in Burma.

The bible is open to Psalm 31, verse 5:

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Our More Important National Debt

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

“…They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
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.”

 For the Fallen

Laurence Binyon

We might have a stronger Republic, a more civil society, a more robust democracy, if we gave more frequent thought to what we owe those who made the supreme sacrifice on our behalf as Americans.


This Story Made My Day

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

From the respected gents at BLACKFIVE:

Westboro Baptists Defeated


USMC Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers, 28, was killed in action by an IED while saving a fellow Marine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on April 7.  Sgt. Rogers was assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.  This was his fifth combat tour in Afghanistan.  His fifth.

….Sgt. Rogers was buried in Brandon, Mississippi last Saturday.  Above is the view of Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Elmo Townsend as he escorted Sgt. Rogers from Airport Road and along U.S. 80 through a gauntlet of hundreds of local patriots who turned out to honor his sacrifice. 

The human vermin of the Phelps family, venomous traitors who style themselves the Westboro Baptist Church, who insult decent people from coast to coast by shouting vile slander at the funerals of heroes, threatened to protest this funeral as well.  Yet, not a whiff of their stench fouled the air anywhere near the procession nor funeral.  Therein lies the story….

Read the rest here.

If you are old enough to have ever lived under “old school” rules, you will love this story. More of this, please (Hat tip to Alyson the Good).

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