Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lest We Forget



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.

- John McCrae


Living down in the United States makes one a little more aware of the military than I think most Canadians are used to. I received an e-mail over the weekend reminding me of some Veteran's Day activities that were taking place today and tomorrow, and it noted that some 52 of my classmates are active or former service members. It was somewhat striking today to see the active duty members wearing their uniforms on campus. And it is always sobering when we are discussing a security related issue in class, such as managing the reconstruction of Iraq, and inevitably someone raises their hand with a unique perspective because they were actually there.

In honour of Remembrance Day/Veteran's Day tomorrow, allow me to share with you a song that was written by my step-brother and performed by the Gospel group Avalon which seems most appropriate for the occasion:





For Freedom

Jody:
Somewhere a trumpet sounds in the night
A soldier is standing there
It’s calling him out to the stars and the stripes
It’s calling him God knows where

Melissa:
He kisses the ones he loves goodbye
and leaves in the dead of night
For freedom he’ll heed the call
Leave all he knows
(duet) And for freedom he’ll stand and fight

Greg:
And somewhere a man and wife
can’t believe they’re waving their girl goodbye
For gone are the days of pigtails and curls and candlelight lullabies

Janna:
If they had their way she’d stay young forever
and never be far from home
But freedom has drawn her heart to danger’s shore
And for freedom they’ll let her go

Jody:
And somewhere a thunderous crash in the night
It echoes all through the hills

Greg:
Though many escape it’s wrath and it’s rage
A soldier lies wounded still

Melissa / Janna:
Remembering the land he loves, he cries
I’ve loved you with all my might
For freedom said I’m her son whatever comes (whatever comes)
And for freedom I’ll say goodbye

Everybody:

And somewhere beneath the stars and the sky
Our flag is still standing there (she’s still standing there)
She bled and she brought one land under God (under God)
Her colors still lead us there (it’s still there)

She’s carried the lives of those before us
She’s buried the bold and brave
For freedom she holds our hopes and and hands up high
And for freedom she’ll ever wave

Written by Matt Moran
Produced by Shaun Shankel
©2005 Meadowgreen Music

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We Shall Overcome

As people keep soaking in what Obama's victory really means, these two clips of young and old reacting to the news perhaps sum it up better than anything else I have seen.




Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On a lighter note...

I couldn't help but note the Star Wars feel to parts of last night. First, the bizarre CNN experiment with holographic correspondents:



Then, after Obama's acceptance speech as CNN starting showing live feeds from around the world of cheering crowds, I couldn't help but think of the final scene from Return of the Jedi:



However instead of Ewok music, the DJ where I was most appropriately decided to throw on "Love Generation" by Bob Sinclar which I think from now on will always make me think of November 4th, 2008:

We Are All Americans Today

Those were the words that ran through my head last night as the Harvard Democrats election night party literally exploded at 11:00 p.m. EST when CNN declared Barack Obama would be the 44th President of the United States of America. Many of you will remember that phrase from a much darker day some seven years ago, when the front page of Le Monde on September 12, 2001 read "Nous sommes tous Américains".

We spent a good portion of both my ethics and international relations classes today talking about people's reactions to the election. Time and time again the idea came up that irrespective of how successful Obama is as a President, the very notion that he could become President has restored the world's belief in the ideal of a progressive and liberal society (small p and small l) where your starting point in life does not dictate your ending point and that you can in fact achieve anything.

As I looked around the packed room last night and saw my friends and colleagues, both Americans and those from every corner of the globe, embracing and high-fiving (and the occasional fist bump thrown in for good measure), some with tears in their eyes, all with exuberance in their voices, my faith in the idea of a common humanity was restored. In America's darkest day and most brilliant evening of my lifetime, I saw the world embrace to first mourn together and then to celebrate together and make the profound statement that in the end, what divides us is much less than what unites us.