Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day


To the memory of the fallen in every conflict. Shared the silence today with an Australian woman whose 97 year old father fought in Europe. As he approaches the end naturally, surrounded by his family, a hero in a distant land we all need to take a minute to remember those who didnt make it through the evil, the stupidity, and the unimaginable.

July 1st 1916. Somme. 19,240 British men were killed in a couple of hours, attacking the German lines and almost completely failing to take any land at all. 35,000 wounded in one day, and nearly 2,500 taken prisoner. The offensive continued until November when General Haig finally conceded defeat. Over one million men had been wounded in this completely futile campaign.

March 16 1968. Lt William Calley told the men of Charlie division “This is what you’ve been witing for – Search and Destroy, and you’ve got it.” An hour or two later over 300 unarmed, innocent, men, women and children lay brutally murdered. Women had been raped, children shot in the back of the head and old men bayoneted where they were praying.

April 25th 1986. Chernobyl. Number 4 reactor exploded and although only 30 people died immediately, some cancers in Ukraine have risen tenfold since then, and thousands have died since.

July 4th 1988. The American aircraft carrier USS Vincennes shot down a civilian airliner, Iranian Air flight 655. 290 civilians were killed by the US warship which was in the Gulf supporting Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. They were also protecting oil tankers moving through the Strait of Hormuz. 5 months later, December 21st, in an Arab act of revenge, Pan Am 103 was brought down over Lockerbie by a bomb, and another 270 people were dead.

April 1994. Exact date difficult to discover. President Habyarimana of Rwanda and the President of Burundi are killed when their aircraft is shot down approaching Kigali airport. In the next three months AT LEAST 500,000 people (UN estimate) are murdered by genocide squads. Hutu radio stations broadcast exhortations to murder “Tutsis like cockroaches.” The figure is more likely over a million, and nearly ONE THIRD of a nation is murdered in just over 3 months. A female government minister is later convicted of issuing orders to soldiers to rape other women.

July 12th 1995. The Dutch army negotiate their retreat from Srebenica by agreeing to the relocation of thousands of Muslims. In the next four days the Russian Serb forces round up and execute 8,000 local men, simply for being Muslim. Over the next few weeks, countless men, women and children are captured around the town, hiding in the hills, and executed.

Today - the West Bank, Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan...

Dachau is still today an intimidating, chilling place, but the Germans learnt one very simple lesson that the rest of us seem to have missed...

Nie Immer

Never Again.

But Man is not that clever...


THEY SHALL GROW NOT OLD AS WE THAT ARE LEFT GROW OLD

AGE SHALL NOT WEARY THEM NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN

AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING:

WE SHALL REMEMBER THEM.



1 comment:

Pete Richardson said...

"Power does really corrupt, but it is as true that corrupt people seek power." Per Byland

As much as I disagree with a lot of what Mr Byland has to say, I wholeheartedly agree with the above quote.