Remembrance Day

I wonder what the dead of war would say, if they stayed past their demise, and wheeled around the fading battlefield like invisible kites of regret. I wonder what they would say - the hundreds of millions slaughtered by swords and bombs and guns, vaporized into shadows on broken walls, ground into jam beneath the curled feet of tanks - I wonder what they would say to us? I wonder what they said to themselves, in their last moments, before their eyeballs bled from the crushing weight of war descending upon their lives.

I wonder if all the words that herded them like bitter vacant shepherds off the cliff edge of death - I wonder if those words evaporated just before their lives did? All the words like - patriotism, nationalism, religion, country... soldier. I wonder if all of the words that wrapped around them like a strangling anaconda mummy tape flew away from them before they died, and revealed only the sand - the dead sand - of nonexistence. I wonder if they realized, just before they died, that they were going to go the way of the words that led them to their graves, the words that did not exist, that made them not exist... The countries that do not exist, the patriotism - that is to live on bended knee to violent masters - the class that does not exist, that led them to lay down their lives for nothing, for rulers emptier than the words that hung them. And I wonder what they would say, if they could still fly above the ruin of the world that smashed them - and that they smashed… I wonder what they would say, as they saw all of these ghastly, deadly, empty, strangling words - still roaming the human landscape, still slithering like spindly, spiderly snakes through the books and teachers and priests and parents and lies and media and print of this world… The words like, ‘honor’ - the words like: ‘medal’ - the words, not that they had been ground out by the empty illusions of their elders, but that they had ‘fallen,’ like a toppling domino that was a human being...

I wonder what they would think of the music played for the dead, who died from words… I wonder what they would think of the tears of the people who stood by their graves; the tears of those whose agony at their loss went as deep and as wide as a bloody ocean. I wonder what they would think of the tears of the people who cried their graves, the people who did not move heaven and earth to stop them from going and marching and falling into the whirling blades of warring death.

I wonder what they would think of those who sobbed at their passing, but did not stop their journey to their end, that did not throw themselves in front of this train of death that scoops and sweeps and grinds and sprays over the bodies of all those it runs into, and over…

And I wonder what these billions of ghosts would say to the young, whose hearts and minds and bodies are currently gripped in the talons of these empty, dead, dying, murdering, cancerous words… The young who are snatched from the dead classrooms of State propaganda, and the dead pews of religious praise for the dead and the dying and the killing and the murdering… To the young held aloft and carried aloft in the steely and stealing talons of these empty words, being carried high above the lands that they're supposed to be ‘protecting’ - but that no one is invading – and, in the name of ‘defense,’ being carried thousands and thousands of miles across oceans, across frightened white upturned faces, and being dropped from these great heights, to fall like dead drones onto houses, onto hospitals, onto electricity plants, onto useless sand - but most of all, onto people - because these dead words carry live people and drop them to merge in a horrible embrace with victims of mass murder. I wonder what they would say to those being carried off by these words and dropped on the innocent…

And I wonder - I think most of all - what these ghosts - who learned too late what it is to die by words, to be slashed by syllables, to be murdered by mouths - what they would say to those of us who still continue to praise this murder, to salute this savagery, to stand stiff before these slumping corpses, to cheer these deaths - and to continue to mouth these empty phrases – ‘national defense,’ the ‘war on terror,’ ‘patriot acts,’ ‘protection,’ ‘honor,’ the ‘fallen,’ the ‘brave,’ the ‘few’…

Because it is these words that we mouth - these words that we loose from our throats - that fly into the air and fasten their fangs and their talons onto the mouths and the lives of the young. and block their air, and block their future, and hack and slash their potential, and return them to us in a box, or a wheelchair, or crutches, or blind, or shattered in spirit - to become a repetition of war in the home, in brutality against children, in brutality against those they have every right to be enraged at - those who cheered them on their way to murder, and to be murdered…

The war always comes home.

And we should use our lips to kiss the young, to sing with the young - not to fasten our lips upon the young and breathe into them these words like a carcinogen smoke that will hurl them aloft, hurl them overseas, hurl them to death - or sometimes, a fate worse than death…

The only value of Remembrance Day should be that it remembers war… Remembers that which is past, remembers that which is history, remembers that which is gone, remembers that which has been scrubbed clean from human life, from the world, from our experience as a species.

The fundamental problem with Remembrance Day is that it does not force us to remember war - because war is still with us.

Remembrance Day should be a glance backwards at a door to a chamber of horrors that we have closed and sealed - not a glimpse across the world to see it continuing, seemingly forever.

Let us make war a thing that we only remember, not something that seems to always and forever murder memory.

Stefan Molynuex, is the host of Freedomain Radio (, the most popular philosophy site on the Internet, and a "Top 10" Finalist in the 2007-2010 Podcast Awards.

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May 2024

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