"THE GLORIOUS DEAD."
CENOTAPH IN WHITEHALL
(By G. 55. Lancaster.)
The other day an Australian soldier stopped a man in a London street.
"Can you tell me the way to 'The Glorious Dead'?" he asked.
" Go past the Parliamentl Houses and up Whitehall, and you'll see it," he was told. And he went.
Either side the streets were still gay with the peace hunting—gold and purple and scarlet along the fronts of each building, and the flags of all the world, save those of our enemies, were tossing thick and. vivid in the light breeze. But that which in homely phrase is already known simply as "The Glorious Dead" is more wonderful than all the bunting, all the /iot oi* colour and form. A tall, plain, foursided monument of whijte-painted wood, with no other ornament or inscription save the words heading this, it is perhaps the most intimate and cosmopolitan altar,on earth,, although the flags which hang—not half but full-mast—either sido of it are British only.
These flags and three wreaths of laurel, with their scarlet bindings blood-red down the white sides, are the mossage of the Government to the Dead, ©n't'about its 20ft. base the monument carries what the people say, and it surely is speech as was never said, in such a way before. Set in the centre of the roaring street, with taxis, buses, carts, and all the clattering and hooting and buzzing their endless way past, "The Glorious Dead" holds up its calm, silence, its' comfort for them that mourn. Hour after, hour, day after day, week after week they, come; the men bareheaded and silent, the women wiping away quiet tears or just standing as though in prayer. And each brings an offering of flowers to that bank of blossoms which, rising from the base all round, has grown a foot high, two feet, three feet, four, in such a marvel of scent and colour and shape as. puts the flags to shame. And from faded posy of snapdragon and hedgerow weed to exquisite boughton anchors and crosses and wreaths, each is a definite word to some man who will never come back.
"To dear Daddy, from Little Charles," shows ;i hand that has held few pens. "To my brother •——, in memory and pride," is writ brave'as the words. One black-edged card bears the names of "My two dear sons." , Silver lettering telling of titles and great deeds lies with an ordinary luggage label scrawled over by a few pencilled words. New Zealand fern, with the initials of some score unforgotten, is half-hidden by the roses a Canadian soldier brought. Veiled Frenchwomen and Belgians, Jews and colonials, rich and poor come here. Men still in "blues" stoop from their crutches with a little stringknotted remembrance of "Bob"; wondering children . bring tight, dying handfuls for "Daddy'b grave",- the perfection of roses, lilies, carnations, sweet peas, and jasmine, yield up their sweetness and loveliness as they are crushed and bruised beneath tho ever-rising mass. Nover has there been anything quite like it before. Please God, never will there be need for it again. Above, in the sunlight, the burning glory and triumph ..of the flags for the "living. Below the hushed, bareheaded throng which stands six deep all day about it's heart's grave, and that mute tribute of a million million blossoms, every one a tear. And either side, and all round, the never-ceasing, noisy [traffic of the street.
From here, in the midst of London town, has the Empire set up its High Altar, and many there be, from that Empire's heart to its farthermost rind, who here come "in hope of. eternal life" tq meet,,. in spirit, with'^hose who, for us all; are immortalised as The Glorious Dead.
Permanent link to this item
"THE GLORIOUS DEAD.", Ashburton Guardian, Volume XL, Issue 9146, 31 October 1919
"THE GLORIOUS DEAD." Ashburton Guardian, Volume XL, Issue 9146, 31 October 1919
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