Dennis McHarrie: Luck
A tough corrective to the increasing sentimentality that surrounds Remembrance Day memorial discussions, including the parroting of such things as 'they died for our freedom'.
On the death of his friend, whose defective plane crashed:
I suppose they'll say his last thoughts were of simple things,
Of April back at home, and the late sun on his wings;
Or that he murmured someone else's name
As earth reclaimed him sheathed in flame.
Oh God! Let's have no more of empty words,
Lip service ornamenting death!
The worms don't spare the hero;
Nor can children feed upon resounding praises of his deed.
'He died who loved to live,' they'll say,
'Unselfishly so we might have today!'
Like hell! He fought because he had to fight;
He died that's all. It was his unlucky night.
found in Victor Selwyn's The Voice of War, Poems of the Second World War. The Salamander Oasis Trust, 1995
There was a knot of anger in many of the WWII veterans that many of us grew up with. They felt that no one quite got it, but they couldn't explain how the war had changed them. They went off after grade 11, the lucky ones came back at 22, shocked and not allowed to show it, so they just got on with things. But this is what they knew: