Tuesday, December 28, 2010

- In Flanders Fields

In a far away place and a time long ago, young men put their lives in the hazard in response, the honourable response, to the needs of their nation. Many of them lost their lives one cold day. A medical officer tending the dead and dying by the name of Colonel John McCrae wrote a short poem he titled 'In Flanders Fields'. It is from this poem from which came the tradition of wearing the red poppy, the token of remembrance for the sacrifice those young men made, now nearly a hundred years past. The meaning of the tradition is largely lost upon us today. The days pass and their comrades amongst the living who survived have now grown old and left us. Yet those voices from the young men who gave up their lives so long ago still call out to us, caught in a time past, forever young.

Candian writer David Warren calls on us to remember them, we who live today, as the sacrifice they made lives on in the freedoms we hold.

"Take up our quarrel with the foe." The words, in that instance, could be taken to refer to the Germans, for they were the proximate enemy in the eastern part of the Ypres salient, where the 1st Canadian Division made its stand. And the body of McCrae's dear friend, Alexis Helmer -- the immediate inspiration for the poem -- was blown to bits by an artillery shell, not by some philosophical abstraction.

Yet the quarrel remains in every generation. So long as we live in freedom on this Earth, we must confront those who would enslave us; and when we cease, our freedom also ceases.
The struggle for freedom is a daily duty to us who live free. There is much wrong in this country when power is so readily abused by those given access to the coercive power of the state and tread over the rights of the people. It is always imperative on individuals placed in such positions of power to be cognizant of the danger to the liberty of the individual, and to constrain themselves. Such wisdom is seldom found amongst those who covet political power, and it falls upon us, the people, to vigorously demand that the freedoms of each and all of us be respected.

To coerce is the way of governments.  Though governments are necessary, they are best seen as a necessary evil.  They are never rightly seen as a necessary good, for ultimately they are always at odds with the freedom of the individual.  Sadly, this truth appears utterly lost upon those now in power that  seek to rule over the people rather than merely govern the free people that live here.

David Warren's is an excellent piece that I cannot do justice. Read the rest of it here.

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