11-11-03

Post-historical E u topia

Misty and dull here. Just the right weather to remember terrible days in history, with men and woman fighting in the damp, cloudy, freezing hell of Flanders Fields.

On a visit to Scotland 10 years ago, me and a friend of mine would go to a pub in Ullapool regularly, called "The Ferry Boat Inn". It was one of the last stops when you were going to the most Northern point of the English Isles. After Ullapool, there was nothing but lochs, moors and rocks.

One evening, an older man came to sit next to us on a barstool. We started talking and I noticed he had a pin on his vest that I couldn't recognise immediately. When asked, he calmly said "Oh, I was in Belgium you see. Lost a lot of friends then ... ."

Offering him a drink, which he refused, I told him "we had a lot to thank him for", while my friend opposite of me nodded (he was a history buff, with enough brains to know what sacrifices the fights around Ieper, or Ypres, had taken and what they had meant for our country and others).

Until today, I clearly see in front of me the blink in this veteran's eye, from the tears that were starting to well up, while he briefly stared in my face. He got up from the stool, saying "Thank you Sir, thank you very much" silently, almost whispering, opened the door and went.

Mark Steyn has an excellent peace on a bisexual prince, Ikea and poppies, Remembrance Day and the Great War, one small quote here:

...
After September 11, I wondered rhetorically (in The Spectator) what are we prepared to die for, and got a convoluted e-mail back from a French professor explaining that the fact that Europeans weren't prepared to die for anything was the best evidence of their superiority: they were building a post-historical utopia - a Europe it would not be necessary to die for. Or as Robert Kagan's recent thesis puts it: these days Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus.
...

More on the poem 'In Flanders Fields' and John  McCrae, the man who wrote it.

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.

17:24 Gepost door Flint | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

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