Monday, May 25, 2009

Being Remembered

This is the use of memory:
For liberation-not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of country
Begins as attachment to our own field of action
And comes to find that action of little importance
Though never indifferent. History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The face and places, with self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured in another pattern.

--T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

May God bless our veterans and their families. May we never forget their sacrifices. Do something kind for a veteran today, as the "love of country begins as attachment to our own field of action." What we do keeps our veterans and their memory alive, even if "that action" seems to have little significance "though never indifferent."


Brosreview said...

Judith, I read this twice last night. And, I kept thinking of it. It left me sleepless.

"History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The face and places, with self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured in another pattern."

These lines are so profound!!! I have always felt proud of the veterans and sad that the common people don't quite understand, respect and value the high magnitude of responsibility these soldiers carry on their shoulders.

I recall a telephonic conversation with a friend of mine a couple of years back. He lived close to the India-Paki border and literally just a few kms away from the borderline. It was his birthday. For reasons, I cannot recall, he was continuously criticising soldiers in general.

I was quite furious at the time and I responded to him - "If they are not there guarding the border with their lives in line, you couldn't celebrate like this being just a few miles away from enemy lines. They sacrifice their happiness of being with their families just so you and I, complete strangers to them, can breathe safely".

You remember my song, "My Forgotten Heroes". Let me share something with you. I wrote that after a funeral. I lost my friend's elder brother (who was very close to me too) to the war at the border.

The Write Girl said...

Wow Judith, this is a wonderful and powerful quote. You really have to read it more than once as the writing style is slightly different. Today is a day that we should all reflect on the sacrifices of brave men and women.
Your sentiments are well written.

judith ellis said...

Ajey - Thank you for your very heart-felt and thoughtful words. T.S. Eliot is a favorite. In thinking about the passage you extracted, isn't it amazing that what may be now also vanishes in time, regardless of "servitude" and "freedom?" Just think of Egypt, Persia, Rome, and Great Britain? (Although with such brutal legacies worldwide of some of these I shudder when I think.) Without the memory of what was or would be--the "face and places," the beloved one (singular though collective) in lands who with service allowed freedom to be. But with memory we can be "renewed, transfigured in another pattern" in our minds and through our actions.

While I honor our soldiers and am grateful for their service, I must admit to being no fan of war. It is an awful destructive force. But I liken its necessity to if someone came into my house to do me bodily harm. Would I kill or be killed? The former would probably be the outcome if I could help it. By the same token, if a country invades another or comes into another's with force, does that country not have the right to defend itself or will it not do so instinctually? While I practice non-violence, perhaps my consciousness needs elevation. Perhaps all of ours does. But even with that we do not arrive at various times of enlightenment at the same time, individuals or nations.

I understand your friend, actually, Ajey. If you think of Palestinians, for example, you may understand how Israeli soldiers as oppressors. I am also sure that many Iraqis see American soldiers the same way. Many Americans also disagreed with that the premise of that war from the very start. I'm sure those who live on the border experience danger and uncomfortable situations that are not imaginable to me; it must be like a police state. But without it, what would there be? Utter chaos? Probably.

I think I remember your song, "My Forgotten Hero." But in the light of this conversation and the T.S. Eliot poem, I will go back and read it again. If I'm remembering correctly it was quite moving, but your songs usually are.

Thanks again for your words.

judith ellis said...

Yes, The Write Girl, T.S. Eliot without doubt makes you read his lines again and again. He is so full and rich. You are right about our reflection, and I'd like to add the necessity of our actions. My mom said once my dad came back from war he was never the same. Many times we also forget the families that these men and women leave behind. I am also just amazed when I realize the ages of soldiers who were killed in battle; they are often so young.