(about war, courage, bravery and heroes)
I opened the April 2010 edition of ‘The Oldie’ magazine and some advertising flyers fell out, one of which was from the Royal British Legion. It was promoting fundraising for the celebration, on 8th May, of the 65th anniversary of VE day 1945, nicknamed ‘VE65’. There was also an invitation to write a message on a triangular card “to our heroes of 1939-1945” and return it the the RBL.
This made me think of the eulogy I wrote five years ago for my Dad, who was an RAF fighter pilot in WW2 and flew the Spitfire, amongst many other aircraft. He was shot down early in the war, but mercifully survived. I also fell to thinking about the meaning of what it is to be a real hero with real courage. For me, he was a real hero, because after recovering his shattered confidence, he got back in the saddle again, in the glaring light and full knowledge of the high risks all WW2 fighter pilots took with their lives, each time they climbed into the cockpit.
I returned this poem in the envelope, with reference to it on the provided triangular ‘flag’ along with a donation for the RBL.
This poem is also dedicated to my Uncle John, a medical doctor, who like his younger brother, my Dad, joined the RAF, but tragically died in Ceylon following a plane crash when he selflessly tried to save the life of the pilot but ended losing his own; he was posthumously recommended by his senior officer for the George Medal, but my grandmother told them not to award it posthumously, rather save it for another, who survived and lived to receive the medal in person.
In writing this poem, my muse reminded me of the glorification of war and violence in so many films (movies). So, I was minded to draw a clear line between the handsome heroes, cast in neon lights by Hollywood, and the raw reality of war.
(Read the Poem)
John, you make an important point with this, the ‘raw reality.” Well done. Thanks for sharing the link on Bardo. I value this poem – not only for its meaning – but for its spare form and lack of sentimentality, which some people would have laid on thick. Well done, dear Poet Against War.