Remembrance

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada (Veterens' Day in the United States). This day is the reason why Canadians wear poppies on our coats after the end of Halloween. The poppies, of course, are in reference to the poem, In Flanders Fields, written by a John McCrae, Canadian doctor and poet, on the front in World War I.

To remember the thousands of Canadians who fought and died in the Boer War, the First World War, the Second World War and Korea, we observe a minute of silence at eleven o'clock, to commemmorate the moment when the guns fell silent on the western front in 1918. It's not a public holiday in Canada, although the banks close, as do most government offices. I used to get a day off school until somebody clued in that this was not the best way to get the children to remember the reason for the day. By High School, the holiday was replaced by memorial ceremonies held in the auditorium where, of course, In Flanders Fields was read.

To me, though, the poem that brings the day home for me isn't Canadian, it's Australian. The song And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. In Flandars Fields is a moving poem, but the Australian poem can be sung and when sung, especially a-capella and counterpointed with the lively Waltzing Matilda, absolutely nothing measures up.

The Omaha folk group, Beyond the Pale (whose music is now, sadly, long vanished) had the best rendition of both these songs, counterpointed. I have it on tape and now (thanks to Wayne and Marguerite) on CD. I'll just pop it in and listen.

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