Armistice Day

Armistice Day in 2004 saw the Return of the Unknown Soldier

(From The Spark, November 2004)

The Dominion Post (November 2004) reminded us that Prime Minister Helen Clark is also minister for arts, culture and heritage. Under that subhead, the paper carried an article by the multi-minister; “reflecting on our maturing sense of national identity”. To Helen Clark,” our maturing sense ” is a preoccupation with selectively remembered mass murder.

The first half of her article was a gushing sentimental rehash of the Unknown Warrior commemorations, concluding:

“More than 80 years elapsed from the time Prime Minister William Massey first explored the idea of a New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior to the day we welcomed home a young man whose life was cut short by war.”

Helen Clark writes as though the poor bastard had somehow been resurrected. No young man “was welcomed home” last November the 11th. The youth and prospects of the anonymous victim died the day imperialism butchered him in the mud of France.

The only thing Helen Clark welcomed in Wellington last Armistice day was a whitewash of capitalist history.P060808SC-0722.JPG

Right: Laura Bush greets NZ troops in Afghanistan June 2008

Helen Clark’s article went on to claim that:

“In many ways we seem far removed now from times of war”. She dared to write that sentence only a few months after the biggest international antiwar demonstrations in history opposed the US invasion of Iraq.

At the time, Helen Clark dismissed the thousands of New Zealand antiwar demonstrators as “relatively small protests”.

But the Prime Minister is not so far removed from times of war that she’s unable to send SAS troops and military engineers to assist America’s butchery in Afghanistan and Iraq. She’s not so far removed that she’s unable to fawn on George W Bush at international conferences and describe him as “engaging”.

What Helen Clark is very obviously not removed from is an inflated sense of her own importance. The Prime Minister rounded off her Dominion Post article with one and a half solid columns of self congratulation; vis; “The government is supporting the expression of New Zealand pride and national identity through a wide variety of projects and programmes.

Five of the seven listed projects were “war time memories” in website, book, and architectural form. Helen Clark says they will all “help to define New Zealand as a proud and confident nation”.

There is no one New Zealand nation. The reality beneath the political claptrap is an assortment of classes with conflicting interests occupying various sections of two main islands. Helen’s war glorifying propaganda is designed to condition the thinking of those of us fated to face the guns  next time capitalism demands conscripts.

Don Franks

Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight
(Under Lord Derby’s scheme). I died in hell ¬
(They called it Passchendaele); my wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back, and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duckboards; so I fell
into the bottomless mud, and lost the light

In sermon time, while Squire is in his pew,
he gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare;
For though low down on the list, I’m there;
OIn proud and glorious memory -that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France for Squire;
I suffered anguish that he¹s never guessed;
Once I came home on leave and then went west.
What greater glory could a man desire?

Siegfried Sassoon

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