Week 183: “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Alex Patterson

Album Cover 1 PIXELATED

Depending on where you live, today might be Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day.

The fact that this day has so many various names is interesting to me, because it raises the question: what is this day for, exactly? The “Veterans’ Day” name suggests that we place our focus on the soldiers who have fought on our behalf in years gone by. “Armistice Day” feels more like a day to be thankful for peace, a day to hope that current wars will soon end.

Then there’s option three: “Remembrance Day.” This is the one I find most fitting. Not only because it’s called Remembrance Day where I live, but because I think the focus should really be on remembering. For me, that means remembering a few things:

  • That I’m lucky to live in an area that is not directly affected by war.
  • That people of my grandparents’ generation helped to defeat Nazism.
  • That all returning soldiers come home wounded.
  • That governments who send soldiers to war should be responsible for their care when and if they come home.
  • That soldiers aren’t the only people who die in war.
  • That nations need to do everything they can to avoid war.
  • That victory should not be confused with glory.

This last point is at the heart of Wilfred Owen’s incredible poem, “Dulce Et Decorum Est.”  If you haven’t read it, please do. Or even better, listen to Kenneth Branagh’s reading of it. It does everything a great wartime poem should do: it honours veterans, it pleads for peace, and reminds us that war is ugly. This song, brilliantly composed by Alex Patterson and beautifully performed by Concanenda, was inspired by Owen’s poem, and provides a fitting soundtrack for remembrance.

So whether your calendar shows today as Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or even just Monday, take a second to remind yourself that peace is both valuable and priceless, inherently free yet often costly.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The opening chords, humming almost at whisper-level.

2. The soprano soloist, slow and deliberate, echoing like a distant trumpet playing “Last Post”.

3. At 1:18 there’s just a hint of Gregorian chant, giving the piece a solemn, funeral-like atmosphere.

Recommended listening activity:

Putting your problems in perspective.

Buy it here.