I was in France a few years ago and the journey back took me through Normandy where all the WW2 cemeteries are. I visited the British and Canadian one in Bayeux, and the American one at Caen and, after leaving Caen, I noticed a signpost for a German one at Orglondes, so I went to see it. Well, I have never experienced anything like the atmosphere of deep sorrow that hung over the place and, even now, when I think about it, it still gets to me.
I know some people might have a problem with that but I make no apologies for what I felt. When you walk around and see the ages of the young men who died and that goes for all the cemeteries, it really brings it home to you what an insanity and a complete waste of humanity war is. The average age was about 19 and, at the time, my youngest son was 21 and I thought about him and his friends going out to fight a war and, to be honest, you could hardly have left them alone with a box of matches never mind sending them into the battlefields of Northern France.
In the Battle for Normandy, now long over,
this is the story of the losing side,
visible in the final resting places
of those known, and Known Only Unto God.
No glorifying memorials,
no quotes, no fine speeches.
Below a bell tower, an apologetic sign
Remains, a grey stone marker, six by one...
Onto the thousands, you fought and died,
you chased the dark dream, another ‘old lie’.
Youth sacrificed to an ideology,
that robbed so many of their humanity.
‘I did not think, I just went along’
‘My friends all joined so I did too
A boy’s own adventure, we thought’
‘I was afraid not to, I followed the crowd’.
‘I believed in it, I was serving my country
I was proud. I don’t believe now'.
So full of regret now, weighted in sorrow,
bearing down on me to grieve the tomorrow
that never came for this Lost Generation:
This is the story of the losing side,
that reveals the darkness that lives in us yet.
That negates the claims we make to civilization,
and reminds us to think:
Lest We Forget.