Dulce et Decorum Est

There’s a lot of debate around at the moment as to why the Europeans have made the European Union. Are they fools to willingly surrender their sovereignty? Is it a giving up of democratic rights? Is the EU just a big business conspiracy? Will the EU challenge the USA to a duel?

But if you want to know the real reason, deep down, why the Europeans have made the EU, I think you’ll find it’s very simple. The Europeans are sick to death of war. That’s why, however much we may criticize, however Eurosceptic we may profess to be, if we really think hard about it, we love the European Union. Because it guarantees peace in Europe. In fact it makes war in Europe impossible.

Below is one of the most influential pieces of writing that set the Europeans on the road to creating peace. It was written by an English soldier, Wilfred Owen, during World War One. If you read this, why will you need to ask again why we made the European Union?

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, –
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Note: The phrase Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a quote from a poem by the Roman poet Horace. It means “How sweet and fitting it is to die for your country.” It was widely quoted at the beginning of the War to encourage young men and boys to join the army.


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