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Remember what we owe

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row by row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard among 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 yea break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– John McCrae

In my office today in the City, at 11 o’clock, on the 11th of November, hundreds of us switched off our phones, stilled our keyboards, took our eyes off our spreadsheets, and marked two minutes’ silence for the men and women killed in defence of this country.

A lot is written about what Poppy Day ought to mean, but for me, the son of a former RAF aircraft navigator, cousin-in-law of a fine member of the US Air Force and descendant of two Royal Navy commanders, the meaning is very clear. I would not now be able to blog my inconsequential libertarian thoughts without the sacrifices made by others. It is as simple as that.

8 comments to Remember what we owe

  • Richard Easbey


    I hope you won’t be embarassed to be told that your post made my eyes well up with tears. Beautifully said…

  • Chris Goodman

    In the last few hours a number of American and British parents have been told that their sons have been killed in Iraq. Since I am not a BBC journalist, if I shed a tear it will not be because an old terrorist has died in Paris, it will be because as they die in Iraq, and their fellow soldiers continue to fight, I am not sure they realise how much decent people honour them, they and those who went before them, in the fight against evil.

    God of Light, Give Them, And Us


  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: Johnathan Pearce
    RE: Remembering

    Observing a family tradition here….

    …watching A&E’s movie, the Lost Battalion.




    Heartening words indeed; comrade Jonathan. This ex-comie, wee bairn and our; beloved dachshund all wore our poppies with much pride ‘tho apart from the odd pensioner/ Shoah-survivor; the rich liberals in the neighbourhood showed scant enthusiasm for any of this `non-U’ stuff. My grandparents’ generation sturdily believed that overt display of emotion was something the lower classes induldged in. Today mass hysteria and self-induldgent victimhood are downright mandatory….We are endlessly being told how HM is a cold parent; that our parents lacked emotional intelligence whatever the hell that means. How the media wallahs weep for Islamofascist murderers! Can anyone remember a lachrymose coverage of British Armed Forces’ casualties in Northern Ireland, in the Falklands, in Afghanistan or Iraq? Did any BBC bimbette weep over 9/ 11/ Beslan/ Bali/Madrid/ Israel? Why haven’t we heard from the Pinters, the Redgraves, the aged Rock chick Jagger, Michael Moore, Tariq Ali and all those who sail with them while Theo Van Gogh is butchered by Mohameddan zealots? So unto Kipling we return…Say a prayer for ourselves and for the Tommy who fights on despite every elitist betrayal of the cause, despite the fact that the traitors who owe their lives to him condemn him, despite the knowledge that Rowan Williams in his capacity as A rchbishop will not honour his memory nor his courage. May the Lord protect and give succour to our soldiers; Amen.

  • John

    >I would not now be able to blog my inconsequential libertarian thoughts without the sacrifices made by others. It is as simple as that.< Amen to that. I can never read McRae's poem without tears welling.

  • Bethany

    Speaking as a currently serving member of the (US) armed forces, even if I am rapidly approaching my separation date, and especially as one who has spent the last four years overseas, we know. And we thank YOU for making it worthwhile. And for giving us something to come home to, to remember those who couldn’t come home when we did.

  • Paleo Man

    In Flanders fields today, the most popular political party has been outlawed by a decree of judges appointed by its opponents.

  • Verity

    Paleo Man – That has nothing to do with the people who died for us, who were British and American and Canadian. They were buried in Belgium because that’s where they gave their lives.