Sunday, November 11, 2012


4" x 6"  oil on canvas panel

 The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.   Remembrance Day.

I was brought up in a knowledge of war and how it impacted families.  A great uncle died in World War I in France, whose body was never found.  22 years old.  My great grandfather was a soldier in the British Indian Army and served in South Africa, the UK and Canada. My grandfather served in World War I, discharged after injuries and events he never spoke of.  My father served in World War II and the Korean War.  Aside from humourous stories, we never knew of what happened during those times. All the horror was locked up in their memories and taken to their graves.

The world today knows nothing of hardship and sacrifice except for the military who currently fight in wars.  Even now, technology removes many barriers and remoteness from a soldier's life and make serving in the military very different than in the first two world wars.   Food is available, shelter and the tools to do your job.

When my great uncle died on October 11, 1916, he died in a field in Gueudecourt, France under asurprise shelling attack by German soldiers. There was no internet, long distance telephone calls were expensive and often inaccessible during war time and his parents struggled with the news, trying to piece together information about his death.  How, why...why, why, why?

We need to remember the horror of war.  Unfortunately we don't seem to learn from it and continue to repeat the past in varying degrees as more families ask why and how when they receive this heartbreaking news.  In Canada red poppies are worn around Remembrance Day to represent the battlefields of the past and the more than 100,000 Canadians who died there.

In Flanders Fields

John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.


Sue Clinker said...

Beautifully said Jeannette.

I live on the Kent Coast of England - a short Ferry ride to N. France, Holland and Belgium. I have visited many of the War graves there and it never fails to make me cry - so many young soldiers killed.

The graves are beautifully maintained and anybody who has the opportunity should visit to pay their respects and just experience the sheer scale of the losses and the debt we owe these young men (and women).

Jeanette said...

Sue, I must go to Beaumont Hamel soon and see the war graves and experience some of the landscape that my great uncle and others experienced. I've heard its a very moving experience.

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

I live in hope that one day we will learn the lessons and all the fighting will stop. It just seems to go on and on and on.