To commemorate Veterans Day we decided to showcase a poem from World War I veteran Siegfried Sassoon. “The War to End All Wars,” as some referred to World War I, was sadly far from the last to be fought. Known in the United States as Armistice Day until two more wars had passed, November 11 was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. Armistice Day originally marked the ending of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Seigfried Sassoon was a British war poet who, unlike some other well-known contemporaries, such as Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke, survived the war and became a veteran. Today we let him speak for all of those who fought in all wars.
Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time’s tomorrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.
I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and pictures shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.