AGED 19

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I’d just started blogging last year when I first posted a piece about The Étaples Military Cemetery in the Pas-de-Calais department of Northern France. The Cemetery stands on the former site of a vast military hospital complex used by the Allies during the First World War. Being away from the frontline trenches the military hospital was relatively safe from enemy land attacks. The hospital could cope with up to 20,000 casualties at any one time.

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Given that we are so close to Remembrance Day I thought a reprise was in order. I was 20 when I visited the Cemetery. There were rows and rows of graves that simply gave a name and an age, ‘Aged 19’. It was food for thought and reflection. The gravestones seem to speak. They told me how lucky I was.

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The song itself remains a demo version, nothing more. Just a simple experiment of possible styles of composition and construction. That’s all. It’s what the song’s about that’s important. Nothing else. I won’t post the whole lyric, although there is a link to the song itself that still sits on my old SoundCloud.

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AGED 19

On that day I saw a thousand graves

They all said ‘Aged 19’

Wall to wall white marble stone

Stood on grass so green

They went on for miles

As far as I could see

Relics of remembrance

A cosmic storm’s debris

 

Were they just a band of brothers or just a band of lonely ghosts?

What was good is now on the edge of being the most obscene

It’s a lonely road to travel when you are so young

Where did it all go so wrong? Could it have been foreseen?

Guess that it hardly matters now

When the stones say ‘Aged 19’

Battles fought and lives all lost

Or something in between?

This unholy

Heaven’s door

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Copyright © 2016 Zoolon Audio.  All rights reserved.  Unauthorised copying, reproduction, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting prohibited.

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34 thoughts on “AGED 19

      1. I’ll be sending this to a Danish couple that takes excellent care of the Allies’ graves over in Europe. They have an undying respect and gratitude toward the men.

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      2. Thanks for that. There’s a tiny cemetery in a village outside of Bethune – can’t remember the name right now – in Northern France the French send soldiers out from their base in Lille every week to tidy up stuff. In that cemetery the gravestones face to Mecca for the Muslims who fought with the Brits, plus a number of stones for the local French fighters and Brit soldiers. They even found a space for the Germans who died in the region. My family rented the house right next to the cemetery when I was about 12 years. It had a great impact on me.

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      3. WW1 is probably the biggest thing for Europeans in terms of memorials. Maybe because military deaths were massive and far outnumbered civilian ones over the 4 years of that war; maybe because it was a pointless war to have compared with the necessary one that was WW2. But rest easy, no way has Europe forgotten either war.

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  1. This is so heartrendingly moving. When in France, on a bus heading back to Germany , we passed the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial where more than ten thousand American soldiers are buried. Here, in my family cemetery are several graves of unknown soldiers dating back to the revolutionary war. It is a never ending cycle. Thank you for the beautiful photographs and the very poignant words.

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    1. Thank you. There are so, so many all over France and Belgium. As a kid I was taken to a lot of them. They are special places and as you say are ‘heartrendingly moving’.

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  2. We’ve started talking to Blondie about WWII, about her great-grandfathers, and the toll such battles have on homes. Tucked away in Milwaukee, surrounded by the baseball stadium and…I dunno, random commercial places, is the veterans cemetery. Rows and rows of such stones. Though one of these days, I dearly want to take the kids to Arlington. As you know, there is a power to such a place that can’t not move one’s soul.

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    1. I think seeing them though a kids eyes as I did on various holidays in Northern Europe means you get a feel for sacrifice early on. After that, the rest of it comes easy. Soul as a metaphor or a belief is pretty much the same thing. It moves as you say. Important stuff I think. Sometimes the best war graves are the smallest ones. I don’t know why.

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