As we approach ANZAC Day here in New Zealand on the 25th of this month, I’m always reminded of those who fought in the war. Many lost their lives and those who returned were often scarred, if not physically, then emotionally.
My grandfather fought in the trenches of WWI, but he was never the same afterward. He died a couple of years before I was born, and I’m sad that I didn’t get the opportunity to meet him. He was an artist who, because of the depression, ended up painting houses and cars instead. I have some of his framed sketches from the 1920s hanging in my hallway. I remember my dad talking about him doodling in the margins of his newspaper to entertain them as children.
As part of the last orchestra concert I played in, we performed “Elegy for Strings in Memoriam for Rupert Brooke” by Frederick Kelly. Brooke was one of the war poets and died off the shores of Gallipoli after developing sepsis from a mosquito bite. Kelly survived that battle only to lose his life in the final days of the Battle of the Somme in November 1916. Both men died far too young.
You can hear a performance of the music here.
The piece is very haunting, and I think captures the feeling of loss all too well.
I’ve also been working on edits for the final book—Comes a Horseman—in my WWII series, Echoes Rising this month, another reason why I’ve been thinking about the brave men and women who fought to protect those they cared about.
To quote one of the characters from that story: “The last war was supposed to be the one to end all wars, and not even two decades later we’re fighting another one.”
A chilling thought, but one he—and I—felt he needed to say, and sadly still holding a degree of truth in regard to the state of the world today. We might not have had another world war but often it feels as though we’re teetering too close to the edge of one.
One of the symbols of ANZAC Day is a poppy. Although poppies became popular in remembering the fallen in WWI, the symbol is now used for all those who fought. In Normandy they lay poppies on the memorials to remember D-Day—the allied invasion of France on 6th June 1944 during WWII.
No one wins a war, and I think it’s important to remember the lessons of history and try to learn from them. I hear some say that if something happened before they were born, they don’t need to know about it, because it doesn’t affect them.
I disagree. I read and write stories set around the first half of the 20th Century for good reason. Not just because I enjoy historicals, and I think wars bring the best and worst out in people, but lest we forget.