It's taking me forever to read the Siegfried Sassoon books, the fictionalized memoirs on which Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy is based. I've put it down a few times to read other things, and I've been writing, so I haven't been reading it as much as I would like.
As a result, I find myself on this Remembrance Day reading a first-hand account of that most terrible and useless war.
Unlike most people around me, I don't wear the red poppy symbol. No matter what anyone says about honouring veterans' sacrifice, and how it's supposedly politically neutral, it just doesn't work for me. I feel the remembrance excuses, normalizes and glorifies war.
Canadian should never have been sent to die in the trenches of France and Belgium. Neither should the British or the German. And although the Americans only showed up briefly at the end, and are often mocked for it, they never should have been there at all.
Did you know there was a huge anti-war movement in the US at the time? It was led mainly by socialists, and it was systematically repressed, often with pre-emptive arrests.
Obviously people born in Canada have a different view of war than those born in the US, and a different vision of what it means to be a soldier. But for me personally, the official remembrance condones the sacrifice. I feel this is especially true for a war that never had to be fought, and for which such an enormous price was paid.
As I say every year: honour the dead by working for peace.