Tag Archives: Remembrance Day

國殤紀念日 Remembrance Day

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每年11月初在英國, 可以看到許多街上的行人在胸前別着一朵小紅花, 甚至有些車的車頭也粘著小紅花。雖然知道這起源於記念一次世界大戰(結束於1918111111時)中犧牲的將士, 也曾在書中讀到關於戰爭的故事, 但佩戴小紅花的心情似乎距離我十分遙遠。一直到連續看到一位曾經參與二次世界大戰(1939~1945) 情報工作的長輩不厭其煩地每年配戴, 才開啓了我一探究竟的好奇心。

Every early November in Britain, many passengers, even cars, are seen wearing little red flowers on the streets. Although I am aware of it’s origin being commemorating the sacrificed soldiers in WWI (ended 11 o’clock, 11th of November, 1918), not until I kept seeing someone I know wearing it year after year, I started feeling curious about it.

機緣巧合下, 我看了一集播出中的英國廣播公司國殤紀念日的特別節目, 其中, 一位九十歲的老先生, 述說他在二次大戰服役中倖存的心情。 比爾在戰時參與了皇家空軍的轟炸機指揮部, 身為轟炸機的後方射擊手, 他的任務是偵測及阻止敵機從後方攻擊, 後方射擊手的傷亡率很高, 出這個任務可能短則兩週就喪命。除了攻擊, 也包含了空投救援物資以及收集情報, 其中一項收集情報的方式是空投載有問卷的鴿子, 冀望牠們不要落入敵手, 而我方的朋友能填寫問卷後寄回。在一次出任務返回途中, 比爾的所搭轟炸機的機尾爆炸了, 飛機整個落入海中, 雖然比爾和同機大部分的人員生還, 但他卻只能看著機長以及一位情如兄弟的同袍呼喊著沈落大海, 卻絲毫使不上力戰後許多年, 他都仿佛一直聽到那呼喊聲在耳邊回響幾年前, 英國最後一位一戰生還者去世了, 再過一二十年, 也許像比爾一樣的二戰生還者也會逐漸隕落, 今日大多數沒有經歷過戰爭的普羅大眾, 會為了什麼目的而佩戴小紅花呢?國殤紀念日會不會變成只是軍事家鼓動大眾愛國情懷的工具呢?

Accidentally, I watched a BBC program about “Remembrance Day”, in which, a 90 year old gentleman sharing his experience in WWII. Bill participated in the Bomber Command of Royal Air Force in the war. Acting as a rear gunner, his job was to detect and prevent the rear attach from the enemy. Rear gunners’ life expectancy could be as short as two weeks. Apart from attacks, they also delivered supplies or collected information through dropping secret agents or message pigeons. Once on the return journey of a task, the back of their aircraft exploded and fell into the ocean. Bill and most of the crew survived, however, his best friend and the captain sunk into the deep water. Bill could still hear their screaming and feel the helplessness in his mind many years after the war. A couple of years ago, the last WWI survivor died. After ten, twenty years, the survivors from WWII, like Bill, will decease too. Will Remembrance Day become something that militarists uses to manipulate the patriotism of general public ?

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一向有著反戰情結的我, 帶著質疑的心情, 來到了英國政府所在地的白廳White Hall), 在這裡廣大的馬路上, 矗立着兩座戰爭紀念碑, 一座建於1920, 碑面簡單地刻着『光榮的死者』; 另一座有著現代化的風格, 雕刻着戰時女性的裝束, 是專為紀念二次世界大戰中犧牲奉獻的女性而設計。就在紀念碑附近, 可以看到學校老師帶著學生, 解說著戰爭的歷史及國殤紀念日; 馬路的另一側, 有參與英軍作戰的廓爾喀人(來自印度尼泊爾, 一支驍勇善戰的部族), 為爭取與英國籍軍人平等的退役權利而靜坐; 他們的隔壁, 則有絕食抗議斯里蘭卡種族屠殺, 陳請政府抵制即將在斯里蘭卡舉行的英聯邦集會; 當然, 更多的是警察、路人及觀光客。如此忙碌且時空交錯的情景, 帶給我一絲複雜的心情~

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With an anti-war attitude and doubts, I cam to White Hall. Standing on the broad street are two war memorials. One built in 1920, on the cenotaph simply written “The Glorious Dead”; the other is a modern style sculpture of women’s war time clothing symbolise the women in WWII. Near the memorials, there were teachers explaining the history of war to the students; Gurkha soldiers protesting for equal treatments as other British troops; and someone having a hunger strike urging the government to boycott the Common Wealth Meeting in Sri Lanka, whose purpose to denounce the massacre of Tamils conducted by the present Sri Lankan government…. Of course, there were no lack of police, passengers and tourists around. Such busy, mixed scene made me feel complicated….

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臨近白廳西敏寺大教堂周圍, 1928年開始, 在國殤紀念日前後就會有一段時間設立『虞美人之原』, 讓民眾在草地上種下紀念的十字架。虞美人, 就是那小紅花的名字。以虞美人紀念戰爭犧牲者的起源, 來自於一位一戰軍醫所寫的詩法蘭德斯戰場。這曾經戰況慘烈的戰場, 據說盛開著如士兵鮮血般鮮紅的虞美人花… 雖然西敏寺大教堂一年四季都充滿了觀光客, 當我站在虞美人之原, 卻自然而然升起一股莊嚴肅穆的心情, 那滿佈十字架與虞美人花的原野, 流動着無形的平靜能量。所有的十字架是如此地低, 不論是要種下十字架, 或只是想仔細端詳的人, 都必須彎下腰、低下頭- 在死者的面前,沒有誰比誰高人一等。現場有許多老年人尋找着親友所屬的戰時編制, 在他們的區域獻上緬懷之情, 也可以看到年輕媽媽帶著小孩進行追念。我留意到某一區的每個十字架都有照片,走近一看, 發現那是為最近幾年在阿富汗陣亡將士所設; 在那一區斜對面不遠處, 一群十字架中混雜着月亮及六角星,也許死者是回教徒或猶太人吧, 而他們所屬的區域是『情報單位』…

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Not far from White Hall is another famous tourist attraction, Westminster Abbey. Since 1928, a “Poppy Fields” was set at the abbey’s court yard for people to “plant” remembrance cross with poppy flowers. Poppy was first taken as a symbol of remembrance from a poem called “In Flanders Fields” written by a military doctor, John McCrae. The first line of the poem says “ In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow between the crosses, row and row”.Even though Westminster Abbey has always filled with tourists all year round, when I stood at the poppy fields, the busy atmosphere suddenly froze and on the fields, the energy of quietness and peace flew.

The crosses are so low that whoever wants to plant one or look at them has to lower their knees or bow down- nobody is higher than anyone in front of the dead. You can see old people trying to find the areas their friends belong to or young mothers bringing their kids to join this ceremony. I noticed that one area has got photos attached on all the crosses and discovered it was for the troops fighting in Afghanistan (very new…). Not far across this group, in the secret agent’s zone, one can see some crescent moon and stars of David amongst many crosses. I guess they are probably to memorize muslim or Jewish people….

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當另一半知道我拜訪了虞美人之原, 他從抽屜裡拿出了外祖父及叔公在戰後獲頒的勳章, 他說:『叔公從土耳其作戰回來後, 從沒提過戰爭的事, 他的勳章, 一次都沒佩戴過』 是的, 在英國大部分的家庭, 多少都有親友曾經經歷過兩次世界大戰。也許幸運地生在堪稱和平時代的我們, 不能體會他們當時所經歷或現在仍然經歷, 生離死別的種種; 雖然戰爭代表着人類的愚蠢, 然而, 沒有許多人在這樣極端狀況中發揮的智慧與勇氣, 今天的我會過著怎樣的生活呢?或許軍事家們確實汲汲營營地試圖操控大眾對戰爭榮耀的想象, 我的國殤紀念日小旅行, 卻帶給我謙卑及感恩。

IMG_5318Knowing I have visited the “Fields of Remembrance”, my other half showed me the war medals of his grand father and grand uncle. He mentioned “Grand uncle never said a word about the war and never wore his medal ever since he came back from the fight in Turkey.” Yes, many English family has connections with the two world wars. Born and living in this reasonably peaceful period, it might be difficult for the majority of us to feel how those experienced the war have suffered or are still suffering. Wars might have presented the stupidity of human beings. Militarists might be busy exemplifying the glory of wars. However, without the wisdom, courage and efforts that many people shown at such extreme conditions, what kind of live would I have been living today? My little trip of Remembrance Day has brought me a sense of humbleness and gratitude.

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