Exploring more of Hamilton Cemetery I discovered an entire regiment of military graves. Buffy Sainte-Marie on CBC yesterday told of how in the early sixties she sat in the basement of The Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto and wrote the song 'Universal Soldier' (nothing to do with the movie of the same name). Listening to the lyrics made me think more deeply about the institutionally scripted remembrance we undertake when we see graves like these; the things this remembrance makes us forget and the questions it stops us asking. Why don't we have a remembrance day for the heroes who refused to be drafted and would not take up arms? Why don't we honour those who were sent to jail or killed for their commitment to peace and non-violence?
He's 5 foot 2 and he's 6 feet 4
He fights with missiles and with spears
He's all of 31 and he's only 17.
He's been a soldier for a thousand years
He's a catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain
A Buddhist, and a Baptist and Jew.
And he knows he shouldn't kill
And he knows he always will kill
You'll for me my friend and me for you
And He's fighting for Canada.
He's fighting for France.
He's fighting for the USA.
And he's fighting for the Russians.
And he's fighting for Japan
And he thinks we'll put an end to war this way.
And He's fighting for democracy,
He's fighting for the reds
He says it's for the peace of all.
He's the one, who must decide,
who's to live and who's to die.
And he never sees the writing on the wall.
But without him,
how would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau?
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He's the one who gives his body
as a weapon of the war.
And without him all this killing can't go on
He's the universal soldier
And he really is the blame
His orders comes from
far away no more.
They come from him.
And you and me.
And brothers can't you see.
This is not the way we put an end to war