The day the lamps went out

The hundred year anniversary of the First World War.

Colchester War Memorial of the First World War.

Colchester War Memorial of the First World War.

One hundred years ago today Britain declared war on Germany.  As the airwaves drowned in telegrams of nations declaring war on each other, the lamps of the world said a newspaper had gone out.  Church bells rang throughout Europe, no weddings or celebrations, the harbinger of war, mud and death.

The rulers of the time said the war would be over in weeks, at worst by Christmas.  In my town of Colchester they marched to war, the drums and marching feet echoed in every other town and village in Britain, and across every hamlet in Europe.  Those happy optimistic faces fighting for their king and country, the memorials of their passing stand tall and silent in every corner of Colchester, many of those laughing faces never came back.

The rulers gambled like drunks in a casino, millions of lives like little poker chips on the table.  At the head of the table was Death, his perpetual grin marking the only winner in this game.  The casino always wins, the harvest of dying empires like butchered cattle hanging on meat hooks.

Verdant green grass cover the angry fields of agony; crimson-blood coloured poppies replace the dying men;  the sweet singing sky lark drowns out the explosions and screams amidst a thin wall of time.  All the players in the Greek tragedy of human stupidity are gone, death takes all.

The last ancient soldier who marched and came back home nearly alone.  Today on the hundred year anniversary of war he would hear a British Prime Minister calling for increased military spending, NATO armies deployed to Russian borders.  The soldier might question the sacrifice.  In their casino the rulers gamble; in austerity the Colchester town lights go out again at night; the grinning man smiles.

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8 responses to “The day the lamps went out

  1. A very eloquently written piece from Alex. I understand exactly where you are my Friend. With the abundance provided by Mother Nature why, as inherrent loving beings, we don’t embrace and work with her is totally beyond me but I do believe a ground swell is happening. But then, I’m an eternal optimist, grateful for the opportunity of life…at this moment My heart is with all those suffering or passed away unnecessarily, and I include all species that, who share this planet, due to a few with out of control Egos driven by fear and greed.

    • Well said Terry. I visited some of the Colchester war memorials today: the tranquility; children playing; beautiful nature all around … all symbols of hope and optimism for a happier future.

      • Alex, I can’t express my feelings in response to your moving words any better than Terry. Indeed, Terry’s reply offers very deep ideas. Thank you, gents.

      • Hi Paul, I hope that all generations today and in the future may always remember this war, its stupidity, its horror, and be motivated to seek an alternative to mindless violence in times of conflict.

  2. You created an excellent visual. It sad that the powers that be believe death and distruction is the answer to solve the world problems.

  3. Your words of lives being gambled away like poker chips resonated with me Alex.. I always say soldiers are the pawns.. readily sacrificed.. and for what? can you really tell me at the end of the day to what end war starts and what it solves?.. We have scenarios playing out in battle fields all over the world right now in towns and villages.. where children are killed and maimed.. While we commemorate those who gave their lives for our Freedom.. Are we ever Free of War? will we ever be free of Warmongers? and Do we really see the real reasoning’s behind such events …. I despair some times Alex.. As the war was meant to end all wars.. Let us never forget ALL those who die in their various causes.. And I hope those leaders who deal in death can learn there are other ways to find peace.. Is not through the killing of children..

    • Hi Sue, thanks for your thoughtful comment and eternal questions that philosophers have asked since before recorded history. The wars of humanity is the outcome of many things, most common of all a lack of wisdom of the rulers.

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