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Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
– John McCrae, In Flanders’ Fields 
November 11th marks Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth countries. Also known as Veterans’ Day (U.S.) and Armistice Day, falling as it does on the anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War, this day is intended to inspire reflection on the sacrifice of soldiers who died on the battlefield while serving their country in one of the major global conflicts.
An indelible part of Remembrance Day memorials in Canada is the wearing of the red poppy, in turn inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae, the Canadian poet and physician who served as a medic during World War I. As detailed by former Globe and Mail editor Richard Doyle in a November 1984 article, the iconic phrase “take up our quarrel with the foe” appearing in the final stanza was not likely intended as a reference to the German or Austrian armies, but rather to the spirit of war itself. The torch represents the will to realize an end to war, a motivation for many Allied soldiers on the front.
Unfortunately, the stanza quoted above would come to be understood as pro-war propaganda and even a recruiting tool luring more patriots to the killing fields. 
For many, this author included, the previous understanding of war itself as the enemy is what motivates an observance of Remembrance Day and animates a commitment to eradicate military violence in all its forms from the face of the Earth. And not just during the 11th hour of the 11th day of each year, but during every waking hour of the day, 365 days a year.
A necessary step in such a process is undermining the narratives around war, including the idea that ‘our boys’ are fighting on the side of freedom, democracy and decency.
On this week’s Global Research News Hour radio program, we will examine the bitter realities behind the military projects of the past and present as missions to restore the peace, and ways in which we, the mass of humanity, can collectively hold high that torch and collectively conquer the ‘foe’ that is warfare.
In the first half hour of the program, Canadian historian Dr. Jacques Pauwels provides some historical background on what is to many, the most defensible war effort of the 20th century. In this conversation, Dr. Pauwels details how, far from championing the peace in World War II, U.S. industrial interests and the U.S. government supported the Nazis and helped create the menace that had to be extinguished at tremendous cost to the soldiers and civilians alike on all sides.
In our second half hour, we welcome Ajamu Baraka to the program. Mr. Baraka, an award-winning American peace and human rights activist lays out some of the history of the anti-war movement in the United States going back to the Vietnam period. He outlines the importance of rooting all of our progressive struggles in an understanding of colonialism and imperialism and details some of the sophisticated ways in which the ruling class has thwarted and sabotaged the once robust antiwar movement. Mr. Baraka has talks planned in 5 Canadian cities from November 11th to November 16th. The schedule of events is listed on this page.
Dr. Jacques Pauwels, Canadian historian and author of the 2000 book The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War. He is also the author of The Great Class War of 1914-1918 (2016). His articles appear regularly on the Global Research website.
Ajamu Baraka is an award-winning writer, speaker and social activist. He is the National Organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace, based in the United States. He is also an executive member of the U.S. Peace Council, and was the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Green Party in the 2016 U.S. election. He was also one of the founding members of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) in 2003. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
(Global Research News Hour Episode 276)
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- John McCrae, (December 8, 1915), In Flanders Fields, Punch Magazine
- Richard J. Doyle (November 9, 1984), ‘In Flanders Fields: poem of poppies and peace’, The Globe and Mail; www.consciencecanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/doyle.doc
- John Barber (November 16, 2015), ‘The case against In Flanders Fields’, The Toronto Star; thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/11/16/the-case-against-in-flanders-fields.html