I'm opposed to war (though I also recognise cases where it is necessary - eg. any country determined on wiping out a large ethnic minority should not be allowed to do so).
I don't believe in life after death either - and I tend to think most things honouring the dead are just a form of ancestor worship.
I can resist schmaltzy films with cheerful cynicism.
But the Remembrance Day parade brings tears to my eyes.
The BBC's commentary is perfect. The commentator calmly identifies each group marching and says no more than a sentence or two about where they fought. I think it's the fact that there is no attempt to manipulate my emotions that makes it so strong. It allows the facts and the people to speak for themselves.
I watch them marching, most on foot, some in wheelchairs, some marching with crutches, all dressed in uniform or smart civilian clothes depending on their unit. Not just the soldiers, but those who went down the pits, the merchant navy, all those who contributed to the war effort. (I'm crying while typing this)
There's no hype, no glorifying of war, no dwelling on its tragedies, just the endless parade of those who have come to remember fallen comrades. Maybe it's the length of the procession that makes it so telling. These are just the survivors, the old, those who remain. Seeing them makes one realise, as perhaps mere numbers on a page can never do, the magnitude of war and the number of lives it touches.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
I'm off to make another donation to the British Legion.