Dies Natalis

Lest we forget!

Lest we forget!


It must have been 1982 or 1983. In any case I was a young kid, not more than seven (going on to eight). I was out with my mum on one of those great expeditions to Valletta that involved passing through Floriana for some reason. I remember being accosted by an old man covered in military badges and being presented with the poppy as mum threw some coins into the box. We were standing close to the War Memorial. I remember looking up as the man handed me the poppy and asked me: “So young man, do you know what this reminds us of?”

I don’t remember his expression very vividly but I do remember my answer: “It reminds us that soon it is my birthday”. Cue a blushing mum explaining to the veteran that his kid was born on Armistice Day. Well, not exactly the Armistice Day but the day we remember it. I’m fond of Armistice Day and still get the gooseflesh reading about the exploits of those who lost their lives for all of us, for our freedom. Some may think that it’s sad to be born in a month like November what with All Hallow’s Eve trumpeting it in, All Souls Day somberly marching it forward and Armistice Day to top it all up. Sure, the mood is sober, the weather is chilly and autumnal but it’s the time for preparation for the renewal. And today we all remember the call that went out once the peace treaty was signed: “Never again“. Which is why we remember every year with the flowers that grow on Flanders’ fields…. lest we forget.

I’m thirty three years young today, whatever that may mean. Cheers to all of you who have been reading till here… hope you keep on reading but don’t hold your breath if you are hoping that I get any wiser.

This has been J’accuse… celebrating his own birthday so you don’t have to!


14 responses to “Dies Natalis

  1. At this time of year a chill goes down our spines as we recall the horrific devastation that was visited on the world. We remember a harrowing event whose senseless, insane thirst for wanton destruction was to give grown men waking nightmares filled bestial, blood- curdling screams. Never again.

    Well OK, maybe Jacques`s birth wasn`t that bad.

    Anyway, have a good one.

  2. What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?

    Happy birthday Jacques, and thanks for a good post.

  3. Victor Laiviera


  4. “the exploits of those who lost their lives for all of us, for our freedom”

    I don’t mean to spoil the party but for christ’s sake! J’accuse spouting a Bushism! Why not write a blog on how WWI had nothing to do with freedom at all. WWII maybe, but WWI was a tragic farce that could have been avoided.

  5. Victor Laiviera

    I agree with Alex on this one. WWII is probably the only war in recorded history which could really be said to have had a “just cause”.

    And even that only started when certain countries started to perceive Hitler and the Nazis as a threat to their own wealth and power. As long as he had been a threat to his own people and the jews, nobody batted an eyelid. (Did anyone say Saddam?)

    Heroes are few and far between in the sphere of realpolitik.

  6. Ok. Before Alex get’s too hot under his collar. I must admit to a bit of confusion here – ‘Armistice Day’ refers to the end of World War I and commemorates the dead during that war (Lest We Forget).

    ‘Remembrance Day’ (‘Veterans Day’ in the US) commemorates those who lost their lives (and those who are still with us) fighting for our freedom in both Great Wars (still trying to figure out what was so Great about them).

    Remembrance Day is actually Remembrance Sunday being the Sunday that falls closest to November 11 (which is always Armistice Day).

    Now. All that long winded wikipaedic knowledge in order to say the following: I said that reading about Armistice Day gives me the gooseflesh… I meant Remembrance Day (God, at 33 he still confuses it all like when he was 7). In any case, not that I subscribe to the Dulce et Decorum Est philosophy but I would not tell the many dead of world war one (knock kneed, bent double spouting blood) that their fight had nothing to do about freedom. Bushism or no Bushism the thousands who never reached their 18th birthday deserve respect and remembrance. True, the world did not learn its lessons after WWI and it seems it did not learn enough after WWII either… does it stop us from saying Never Again?

  7. WWI was an absurd war which had nothing at all to do with freedom (freedom from what?). It had more to do with things like this:


    As for remembering all those who never reached their 18th birthday because they got blown to bits in some battlefield, of course, by all means we must remember them all, of all nationalities, because they gave their lives to be cannon fodder for interests which (except for WWII) had nothing to do with them. WWI especially. Europe today should not be remembering WWI with honour but with shame. On the surface that shame is there, but I don’t see it in the militaristic remembrance ceremonies (the UK especially is really in love with the pomp of uniformed mannequins marching up Whitehall). Perhaps the problem is that when wishing to remember the war dead and raise them to the level of heroes the side effect is that war becomes a heroic activity, and then such deceiving and dangerous words like “freedom” and “democracy” enter the equation. Obviously the world did not learn its lessons after WWI and especially after WWII, but that is simply because it did not know what lessons to learn.

  8. btw, the word freedom is a misnomer. For one, the soldiers in the trenches of WWI were not free to begin with. They were not sent into battle to defend their own freedom (which was nonexistent), but the status quo of a sick European aristocracy. Talk about freedom! All in all a very interesting period in European history, when the centre couldn’t hold and out of which was born an even worse tragedy.

  9. Happy Birthday Jacques 🙂

  10. all the best on your birthday and always. have a good one.

  11. May you long confirm the saying that “only the good die young”.

    Has Daphne been tound to say Happy Birhday yet? 🙂

  12. life begins at 50 so a few years left before you can speak of birthdays 🙂

    Happy birthday!

  13. Happy birthday Jacques. Hope to see you soon

  14. Happy B’day Jacques

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