To the Editor:
I was shocked and extremely upset with the comment of historian Paul Fusssell in the Nov. 8 Advance regarding the poem, In Flanders Fields.
Remembrance Day is a time to show our appreciation of our freedom by honouring those who were killed and those who survived. It is not a time to quote a depraved historian who never went to war nor could comprehend what life was like in muddy trenches with bullets being fired night and day, and also the danger of chlorine gas. His comment about the third stanza of John McCrae’s poem as “vicious” and “stupid” reveals he was trying to lift up his own cowardice by bringing the hero down toward his own level.
Written in 1915, in the early part of the war, it follows that if nobody took the torch and continued to fight the foe who did not want peace before 1918, then all would be lost and all the tens of thousands of dead soldiers died for nothing.
Fussell gets a failure mark in poetry. Contrary to his idea, a poet has no set of arrangement and analysis that must be followed. His motive is to captivate and encourage the mind and emotions and, in this poem, to continue the fight for peace and freedom. In Flanders Fields did it all in an excellent way, which only a poem can do.
Fussell had the nerve to call the last lines “propaganda arguments against a negotiated peace.” He is completely in the dark. Ninety-nine per cent of the soldiers in war want the war to end and go back home to girlfriends, wives and children, and would welcome peace any day the enemy would stop its aggression.
I apologize to the people who were and are in the Forces for our town paper’s quote from Fussell, who maligned a true hero. McCrae did not have to fight at the frontline at 41, but chose to be there and support the majority of soldiers who were enlisted at 19-21 years of age.