Monday, November 09, 2009

To remember

Remembrance day is this week and I guess it's working, because I have been thinking a lot about remembering and remembrance this week. In particular, I have been thinking a lot about what we are remembering.

We could remember:

  • that when Germany wanted more power and land in Europe, people from some of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world rose up to stop them, and many of them died.
  • that when England (and other nations) wanted more power and land in Ireland, Africa, Asia, and elsewhere, no one rose up to stop them, and many people died.
  • that when Hitler set out on a genocidal rampage, people were horrified and worked to stop him; some even went to war, and many died.
  • that when genocide happened in Ruanda, Bosnia and Herzigovina, East Timor and the Sudan (to name only a very few) western wealthy nations did not send people to fight to stop it, and did not send massive aid to help what was left of the countries to rebuild, and many people died.
  • that the European infiltration of all of the Americas resulted in the genocide of indigenous people, and many of them died and continue to die.
Here is another story that you might like to remember this particular week:

On November 15, 1917, the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

By the end of the "Night of Terror", they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs, and with their warden's blessing, went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food -- all of it colorless slop -- was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

You might also like to remember that this year is the 80th anniversary of "The Person's Case" in Canada... that prior to October 18, 1929 women in Canada were not recognized as "persons".

What are you remembering this Remembrance Day?

Thanks to my mother for sending me some of this information and to a US based journalist named Connie Schultz for writing the details on the "Night of Terror" and to my friend Ruth, whose comments were the catalyst for this post.


John Corrance said...

Brilliant post. Lest we forget, not everyone who fought and sacrificed for our freedoms did so wearing a uniform and carrying a rifle. They all deserve our recognition, respect and gratitude

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