To those Canadians and other Commonwealthers among you, you might remember that today is Remembrance Day.
I was explaining this to a Korean friend I met today, and I said, “You know, when they commemorate all the young men being shipped off to Europe and the Pacific and North Africa to die. There are gymnasiums full of Canadian kids right now, listening to speeches and explanations of the War.” And I wondered, to myself, whether some of the kids are thinking that the teachers and old guys are talking about Iraq.
I certainly had no real idea which war was being remembered. But I did appreciate the suffering, and shit, and deaths that those young men had to face.
Yes, suffering, and shit, and death.
For all that we try to dress up their sacrifice, it was one that many of them did not understand when they undertook it–a strange, frightening new kind of war, a posthuman kind of war in which technologies were beginning to change the nature of battle itself (though technology has constantly been doing that, back to when we called a chipped rock technology). This war had nothing of glory in it. It was hard, and vicious, and dirty and inhumane, and insane. And a generation later, their kids had to go through the same.
There have been so many goddamned wars in history. And I am not seeing signs that we have learned much how to remember them as they were.
Perhaps if Disney builds a theme park in Flanders’ Fields, people will bother to visit, and remember, then. Flandersland, they could call it.