Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fathers Bury their Sons

Last week I was chuffed with all the positive responses I got to my post, especially as it was my first entry in The Gallery, thanks for all your comments.

This weeks gallery theme is men. When Mrs Domestic Goddess Inc told me what the theme was, I soon had an idea of the photos I wanted to use and a topic I wanted to write about. Tara at Sticky Fingers gave the example of men in our lives, dads, sons, uncles and brothers, so please excuse me for a little theme bending (if you do want to see a great post on dads, sons and daughters have a look at Mrs DGi's gallery post over at MummyLimited).

In peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons.

I have never been in a fight, I seem to have avoided aggressive male conflict, whether by luck, by design or quick feet I don't quite know. I have enjoyed contact sports and their combative nature, but I abhor violence. I watched Band of Brothers with avid interest, but find it difficult to watch an episode of Greys Anatomy or Brothers and Sisters and keep a dry eye. Mrs DGi calls me a wuss, I would consider myself a pacifist, but I still have the utmost respect for men who are conscripted to fight.

Being a pacifist is easy when you belong to a generation that has no experience of war. Video game style bombings taken from the cockpit of fighter planes and Middle East conflict played out thousands of miles away on 24 hour news is the closest I hope to ever get. This was not so for my Grandfathers generation.

My Grandfather was born in 1913, and was 26 years old when the second world war started. Luckily for him he had 'flat feet', which meant he stayed back in Blighty and did administration duties. His brother was not so fortunate. He was conscripted into the Navy and was lost at sea when his submarine was sunk in a battle in the Atlantic.

My Grandfather was devastated by this loss. Both their parents had already passed away and he looked up to his older brother Bob. He was the cheeky chappy he would like to have been. My Grandfather told me how Bob would wake him up when he got home, from his night shift at the bakery, with a freshly baked bun. When my Grandfather passed away himself four years ago, we were sent a letter from a lady who was Bob's fiancée at the time he died, she told us that my Grandfather was an 'honorable gentleman' and that he had proposed to her after finding out Bob had died. This seemed quite strange to me, but apparently it was the done thing- different time, different generation

So when my pacifist-but-conscript-respecting self and Mrs DGi went to Washington USA a few years ago, it was clear that a walk around West Potomac Park , Constitution Gardens and the various war memorials was in order.

I found the Vietnam veterans memorial wall the most poignant. The wall is made of highly polished granite and when you look at it you can see your reflection simultaneously with the engraved names of all soldiers killed or missing in Vietnam. There are 58,261 names, including 8 women. Approximately 1200 of these are listed as still missing.

Vietnam veterans memorial wall with the Washington Monument reflected in the background(1)

The Korean War memorial

The Korean War memorial

Vietnam veterans memorial wall with the Washington Monument reflected in the background(2)

The above photo is not a memorial but the Washington Monument. I saw these service men walking towards me and the side walk, I thought a shot of them with the famous landmark in the background would look good. So I stopped and pretended to take a photo of the monument, and luckily managed to get off two shots.

The photo above is from the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial, if you can not make out the engraved quote it reads:

I have seen war.
I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen agony of mothers and wives.
I hate war.

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