Two minutes of silence once a year is not too much to ask for. One day of remembrance allows us to conveniently forget the stupidity, futility and madness of war for the other three hundred and sixty four. You can remove your poppies now; you have shown everyone how much you care.
A world that is prepared to sacrifice an entire generation in the name of King or Kaiser and country in a war to end wars needs reminding that humanity is more precious than the profit of colonial empires. We might remember them at the going down of the sun but 120 seconds of silence on a cold November morning will not stop it happening again and again and again. Our parents and grandparents stood against and defeated fascism yet we, enjoying freedoms that millions died for, allow hatred, bigotry and evil to again permeate into society and shrug it off by wearing a poppy and not speaking for two minutes. It remains astonishing that those who gave so much are still reliant on charity rather than a home fit for heroes.
After another generation left its entrails and brains scattered across Normandy, the western desert, Burma and so many other places miles from mill towns and city streets and quiet villages, governments still order young men and women to die for the rest of us for what politicians secure in a place of safety call freedom. Those of us on the flight path to BHX might look up to see a C-17 Globemaster loaded with more broken bodies inbound for Selly Oak Hospital and wonder exactly where Afghanistan is. For all the stench-filled horror of war, there is nothing more disgusting than seeing a British Prime Minister scuttling back to lay a wreath after whoring himself around the Middle East attempting to flog fighter aircraft to dictators who are happy to flog women. But it`s okay, Cameron was wearing a poppy as he closed the deal on deadly and indiscriminate weaponry. Hypocrite doesn`t get anywhere near in describing this parasite.
Danny Martin, now a teacher and poet, is a former soldier who completed two tours of duty in Iraq. So, on a day when Sassoon and Wilfred Owen are recited, we can add this:
Do away with medals
Poppies and remembrance parades
Those boys were brave, we know
But look where it got them
Reduced to line after perfect line
Of white stones
Immobile, but glorious, exciting
To kids who haven`t yet learned
That bullets don`t make little red holes
They rip and smash and gouge
And drag the world`s dirt behind them
Remember lads, you won`t get laid
No matter how good your war stories
If you`re dead
So melt down the medals
Fuel the fire with paper poppies, war books and Arnie films
Stop playing the pipes, stop banging the drums
And stop writing fucking poems about it.
You can read more poetry by Danny Martin at warpoetry.co.uk.
If anyone is qualified to lay a wreath to commemorate the fallen, then it is Danny Martin. David Cameron brings shame to the cenotaph.