Remembering

We remember those who gave their lives in war. So many wars, so many nations, so many injustices, so many reasons, so many losses. Remembering the fallen in every nation on earth… and those for whom war is raging now. It seems that even though we remember, and will never forget, we also never learn.

War Vets

many have written of the impact and emotions felt

at their first sight of those aching acres

fertile fields of white crosses

crosses and crosses and more crosses

so many silent witnesses

together and alone

standing with thin arms outstretched

I walked among them in Cambridge

on a warm summer day

thousands of crosses in a white-angled orb

too numerous to count

no dainty daisies were these

casually scattered

to blow and bend in the English breeze

firm and upright

they stood to attention

a stoic and eternal guard of honour

in disciplined formation

neat semi-circular rows

some with names

many without

no-one knows who they are

or were

or who they might have been

thousands of young men

faces unseen

from places

God only knows where

around their bases and in-between

grass is clipped fertile green

and beneath the tranquil surface

you can smell the blood

and begin to count the cost of war

sons and brothers

husbands

fathers

lovers

all lost

there’s a chill in the summer air

as you stare over acres of little wooden sticks

white and bare

and far far beyond

to the boys who died

why

and then there are those who fought

but now live on

with dreams and memories that haunt

from time to time

reminding of past tragedies

that no-one else sees or hears

except the one

who bears the scars within

of war and battle fears

and still others

whose marks cannot be hid

for their limbs they gave

not ‘cos they were particularly brave

but as an oft’ imposed sacrifice

for those who gave orders amidst cigars and gin

many safe miles from where man-made metal

struck the God-made man

in a hell-bent battle for some demonic plan

and now too many

of those brave idealistic and foolish pawns

walk no more

and some can’t see

and some can’t hear

and some can’t feel

and some can’t handle

the peace for which

they fought so long

there are no crosses here for them

or for us to find

no tranquil scenes to contemplate

and remind what might have been

just damaged hearts

and shrapnel-shattered minds

and the living wounded

who wheel

limp

and white-cane tap

their battered frames through life

appearing in crooked lines

at Remembrance Day parades

and legion halls

their distant eyes betray what no word can say

for they never forget or wipe away

the sound and smell of war

the bombs and bullets

the dying crying

thumping grenades

and God knows more

the challenge facing all who fight

and fall

and bleeding leave the battle site

is knowing how to live from here

how to begin to grow  again

accepting the pain of some things never being the same

and hoping to believe one day

that maybe all the suffering

has not been in vain

Surely the hope of the world is at the foot of the first Cross rising above all others that won the war for the heart of men and women through all ages, from every nation…. without favor or prejudice. Hope for wars between nations still raging, wars of sex trafficking, wars of drugs, wars of Covid, wars of politics, wars around Climate, wars that make no sense.

And what of the Prince of Peace? His message written in crucified blood for all time, for all people, for all nations, still trampled underfoot, or twisted for a cause he would never embrace. It’s a somber day to reflect on the past, the present, and the future. How many wars rage in my heart and how much peace flows like a river to heal, forgive, and unite?

Before that Cross we remember the failures of our human journey that has cost so many far too much. And we remember the hope, despite ourselves, released in Jesus who offers to make all suffering not to be futile or in vain… Remember Him.

John Cox

Christian Author and Counsellor

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