November 11th, is known all around Korea as Pepero Day! The day when you are encouraged to go out and buy overpriced poor quality chocolate coated biscuit sticks for the loved one of your choice. Never has there been a more commercial celebration of our love for chocolate batons!
However, according to STCO (Shirts and Tie Coordination), today is in fact "Necktie's Day", a time when we give our very special someone a piece of neck couture to celebrate our feelings.
Even though sub par confectionery and strips of knotted cloth appeal to me, there's a more important meaning to this day. Over on Gangwon Notes, Brian pays tribute to Rememberance Day by posting In Flander's Field and it inspired me to do something similar.
When I was in school we studied a fair amount of first world war poetry and one poem in particular has stuck in my mind through all these years. Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est is a powerful reminder of the terrible price that so many men and women have paid...
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.