11/11 – a Humanist Poem of Remembrance


I wrote this poem for the 99th anniversary of Armistice Day when I became the first humanist ever to address an official government ceremony of remembrance. It’s a response to Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’.


To the nameless millions who lie in mass graves,
From the forest of Katyn to the killing fields of Cambodia,
From Treblinka to Shatila:
We will remember you.
To the prisoners of conscience caged for their beliefs,
The peace protestors shot by their own side
The secretly imprisoned and the illegally tortured:
We will remember you.
To the desperate refugees fleeing persecution,
Tutsi and Hutu,
Rohingya and Yazidi:
We will remember you.
To the ones who didn’t choose to die for their country
To Jane Doe and Seamus McEnroe,
From the Twin Towers to the Twin Rivers:
We will remember you.
To the innocent bystanders, the collateral damage,
From the ghetto to Aleppo,
From Sana’a to Raqqa:
We will remember you.
To the guests struck by drones on their way to the wedding,
The shoppers shot by snipers in the market square,
To the children killed by landmines as they played in the street:
We will remember you.
To the lions led by donkeys,
Tommy Atkins and GI Joe.
To the unknown sailors, air men and women, 
Brown, black and white:
We will remember you.
From the flowers of the forest
To the fallen men of Flanders field,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning:
We will remember you.

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