I have often heard the phrase ‘Lest We Forget’ around Remembrance Day and know it is about not forgetting soldiers who died in armed conflict (originally in the First World War, but now it is generally seen as a day to remember all soldiers), but I am not familiar with its deeper meaning.
I know it is about honouring soldiers for their bravery, which I think is important. However, I also feel some conflict about that because by making soldiers heroes, are we not putting being a soldier in a positive light, which in turn makes people want to become soldiers, which in turn enables wars to carry on occurring? Because if there were no soldiers, there could be no more wars.
So this week my task has been to understand the meaning of ‘Lest We Forget’, and attempt to resolve my internal conflict between appreciating the great sacrifice soldiers give to countries or causes, and wishing people would stop becoming soldiers, so that wars could cease to happen as there would be no-one to fight them.
What I discovered
The phrase ‘lest we forget’ from the refrain of the poem Recessional by Rudyard Kipling was about remembering the sacrifice of Jesus. When used at Remembrance Day services, it is so the sacrifices of fallen soldiers are not forgotten.
I learnt that there are 21 countries without armed forces (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_without_armed_forces).
I learnt about the different reasons people joined the military. The reasons are varying, with many being undoubtedly honourable (to be able to look after their family, to protect their country, to protect others, to protect values they hold dearly, and many others). So now there is no doubt in my mind that many soldiers are ‘heroic’, as they are willing to put themselves in danger or even die for a cause they believe in.
And it is perhaps the people in charge of decision-making that are more at fault, as they have failed to find peaceful resolutions to issues and/or are not treating people with respect and compassion, leading to the situations of conflict rising in the first place.
I joined a group of volunteers making 5000 ‘Peace Poppies’. The poppies will line the route for the ANZAC Day parade on the 25th of April.