Monday, 7 November 2011

A Sense of Duty, to Whom?

The photograph below speaks volumes. That unholy link between majesty and military. The commemorations at the Cenotaph somehow cementing a common bond between fallen soldiers and the royals on display in their regimental regalia.

Rally to the colours
And die for your queen
Life ain't worth living
And death is obscene... 
The monarch in grave black her face a stony mask of duty for duties sake. Princes, princesses and dukes adorned in their uniforms of death.  

They're telling us to carry on answering the call to colours and they'll with dignity tread respectfully over our memories every November 11th. For there is no greater sacrifice than the surrendering of one's life in order to uphold an anachronistic social system, such as royalty.

Watching the choreography played out at the cenotaph every November brings home to me the real dignity that I have witnessed at small war memorials in different parts of London over the years. Some years ago I attended one such ceremony in Kennington Park. The small crowd, mainly of elderly men, was quite and dignified.

Afterwards we went for a pint. Naturally, the talk was about the war; yet there was no recrimination, lots of sadness tempered by laughter at the good times. Almost to a man, these old soldiers held firm to their Socialist ideals. They spoke most disparagingly of the likes of Churchill and Montgomery, who according to one ex-desert rat, "Would 'ave 'ad our fuckin' fag ration if 'e 'ad 'is way!"

A couple of my uncles who came to England in the 1930s and served in N Africa and Italy rarely spoke of their war experiences. But, there was one thing they couldn't stomach and that was the idea that they, or indeed many of their British Comrades, had fought for king and country. No, they were fighting the Nazis and what Nazism stood for. Thus, they regarded the ceremony at the cenotaph as an insult to the memory of all those who died fighting fascism. 

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