Monday, May 28, 2007


The word is a powerful one. It’s an invocation. Of happiness, of sadness, of nostalgia, of fury, of fear.

Of sorrow.

On Saturday, officials zoomed on the road to get to the American Military Cemetery next to my home. In May, the time of remembrance comes, again and again. For people who do not know, who forget, they’re just a convoy of vehicles guarded by police in motorbike that open the road for them. They’re just an anomaly to watch as they drive past, braking to get a better look at them, endangering the traffic in the other lanes as they do so. To me, who once stole inside the great cemetery as a little kid to spy on the ceremonies held there, it’s a time and place for serenity.

A time and a place of green and white.

Of centuries-old trees, beautiful and strong.

Of snow-white crosses, spreading as far as a child’s eye can see.

So numerous the little girl I was couldn’t count them.

I could just tell that there were many of them. A great many of them.

And beneath them, I learnt, people were buried. Young and old, people from the US, who came to fight the evil of Hitler’s war in the second world war. People who came from their faraway land to battle it out against a terrible enemy. People who suffered, feared, bled. And died. For those, there was no careful plan, no well-thought out strategy aimed more at keeping the USSR out of Eruope than at liberating it from the German invasion, no delicate timing. These people were told they’d be fighting against evil, to help people win free, and have a chance at peace and democracy. And they came. And they gave their lives. And my grandparents, and my parents, were free.

Today, the sad melody of trumpets again resounded in the cool air of morning, as the dead were saluted. It had rained. As it had rained on Saturday, and as it always rains on that day. As if the sky itself were shedding tears.

At least, all those people didn’t die in vain. Freedom and peace exist in Europe. But elsewhere…

Memories is also an invocation of deep anger.

When Georges W Bush dares to speak for all those who died, as if he had any right to do so. When he dares to try and recuperate the deaths of all those he sent to be butchered in Iraq for nothing, and to weave their deaths with that of all those who fought during World War II. No, it’s not the same. No, the Iraq war isn’t a just war, one that led to peace and freedom, to democracy. The Iraq war is nothing but a vast fraud, a hijacking of purpose by the great economical interests of the US. It has brought nothing but pain and death and blood to the Iraqi people. It has destroyed anything they had. It has made their situation worse, and condemned them to darkness for many, many years without a single flame of hope.

And it has killed many young people from the US who believed the lie that they would be greeted as saviors and bringers of freedom. Instead, they have been nothing but bringers of chaos and grief, and they have died for nothing.

An invocation of refusal.

In Spain, the right has won the local elections, placing it in good position to win the legislative elections which will be held next year. Have people learnt nothing? Are theys o fickle that the smallest contrary breeze will push them back into the arms of the worst rigid religious extremists? Of populists with a not even hidden nostalgia for Franco? For fascism and dictatorship?

I watch the news, and I keep telling myself that this is just a nightmare gone wild. That it can’t be happening all at once.

Perhaps people are blind. Perhaps they are fools. Perhaps they are cowards who turn the way the wind blows the strongest. Perhaps their hearts are as weak and fickle as their minds are dull. Or perhaps, their memories keep failing them.

I do not know.

All I know is that when the heart-wrenching song of trumpets resounds in the air from beyond the high trees, I see all the white crosses in my mind. In my little girl’s memories.

And I remember.

And my heart doesn’t waver, no matter what populists or sirens may say.

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