As we move into the 21st century it is vital that we – ‘the next generations’ – remember the sacrifices that were made by men and women who fought for peace, particular in two World Wars. As old age and death claims the survivors of these conflicts it becomes our duty to keep their memories alive and pass on the lessons that still need to be learned today
The Next Generation
Across the wide expanse of the field,
Seemingly deserted; laid bare,
the wind meets no obstacles,
except the solitary oak;
whose roots pierce deep into the soil,
and which as a sapling heard
whispers of Agincourt.
For a moment all is quiet and still;
a deathly expectant silence…
punctuated suddenly by the shrill whistle
of artillery shell; increasingly intense.
Joined now by the staccato voices
of the machine guns – and those
of the wounded and dying.
Life it seems is below ground.
The shells sending up spumes of mud,
which rain on the men, crouched in trenches.
The hope of some men is that the earth
will cover them; become their grave.
Those brave-hearted volunteers,
whose innocence did not know such fear.
While others wait impatiently;
their preparations complete, faith unswerving;
God’s strength will be their shield,
he will not turn his face away.
All hearts seek salvation, praying
for a fate other than that
of the unknown soldier
A fear that is in all men, whether at the
moment of reaching up and over,
or later in the nightmares and memories.
Climbing out to charge across the muddy desert,
slipping into the nearest crater;
an inch by inch progress
forwards and backwards.
Somehow the cold trench lined
with ankle deep mud,
has a suction effect –
trying to hold onto its victims;
reluctantly releasing them,
then welcoming back
with soft embrace, the sniper’s targets
The generals wake in softer beds;
rubbing, not mud,
but sleep from their eyes.
“What news?” they ask,
and shake their heads in disbelief,
whilst calling for pen and paper,
to plan their next manoeuvres
In the field – silence. Just the wind,
softly moaning as it gently disturbs
the flowers of the nations;
strewn in bright red array.
God stretches his hand wide,
and gathers his own,
This suffering can crush
the spirits of the strongest.
Yet like seeds borne by the wind
a future purpose remains;
nowhere more than in the hearts,
of the men determined to give life,
to the next generation.