Monday, November 11, 2013

Remarque, Sassoon, Owen and Gibson.

At 11 o'clock on November 11th, 1918,  the Great War came to a conclusion by armistice, a rather glamorous word for truce.  In Remarque's novel, the hero was killed on a quiet day on the western front in October 1918.  Remarkque, himself died in 1970.  And too, on a day like this, worth remembering Sassoon's "How to Die." And, on a day like this worth remembering Owen, "It's sweet and right to die for your country." A lie, Owen claimed soon before he was killed in 1918.  Then worth remembering Gibson's poem, "Back." Or how it feels to get home.  And there are prayers.

Nearly ten million soldiers were killed in action during the course of the conflict, of these nearly ten million soldiers, 2,738 were killed in action on the day of November 11th 1918. One of them was an American soldier, killed sixty seconds before the Armistice came into force. Some will tell you, he'd been demoted from the rank of sergeant and with one last chance to prove himself, he chose to charge an enemy machine gun.  Others will point to his posthumously awarded Distinguished Service Cross, and the big plaque which in 2011 was erected to contribute to his memory.

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