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Remembered Today:

Exhortations at memorial Services


squirrel
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Like many of you I suspect, I have attended Remembrance and other memorial services where the well known exhortations are proclaimed, but in some instances those doing the proclaiming do not seem to know the correct wording for some reason. I find this galling to say the least. If you are going to proclaim the exhortations then at it should not take that much effort to get them right.

Or am I being too "picky"?

As far as I am aware, the following words are the ones that should be used but I would welcome any corrections or comments:

They shall grow not old,

As we that are left grow old.

Age shall not weary them,

Nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun,

And in the morning,

We will remember them.

When you go home,

Tell them of us and say:

For your tomorrows we gave our today.

The "Kohima" exhortation is a variation on the original verse written in 1918.

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Squirrel - the Kohima exhortation as it appears in the cemetery at Kohima, has "for your tomorrow" rather than "for your tomorrows".

Tom

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Thanks Tom - I have heard "Tomorrow" and "Tomorrows" used, mostly the latter.

I checked the RBL website but the link to the Memorial Service page is down.

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I knew (because I read it here, somewhere) that the quotation originated from some epigrams written just after the Great War, as suggested texts for war memorials. .

I just googled and I see that the author was John Maxwell Edmonds and I see that - as Squirrel says - his original text has some punctuation and slightly different wording:

When you go home, tell them of us and say, 'For your tomorrows these gave their today'.

You can see how the original was slightly adapted for use as an inscription in the cemetery at Kohima, but now that I've seen it, I think the original would have made a better exhortation for use in other places.

Tom

Edit - I added "as Squirrel says" because I didn't notice at first that he referred to this in his original posting.

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And don't forget the response by the 'congregation' for the exhortation:

We will remember them

(On a personal note, it sets my teeth on edge to hear "Shall" used instead of "Will")

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Hello squirrel

Apart from the points Tom has made, I think you have them right.

Bearing in mind that these are direct quotations I think we should expect people saying them to get them right. I always check this when my church is preparing the order of service for Remembrance Sunday.

Personally, I would prefer to see the Kohima exhortation more widely used, especially at memorials and cemeteries. The Binyon extract can be a bit hackneyed, having perhaps lost some of its force by repetition.

Ron

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Thank you all for your contributions.

As far as the "Kohima" exhortation is concerned, I much prefer the original verse by Edmonds and feel that the entire verse would be more fitting for most occasions.

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Kohima is getting difficult to pin down! I've now found photos of the memorial taken at different times and one says, "for their tomorow" while the other (later) photo has "for your tomorrow".

Tom

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Interesting discovery Tom.

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I feel the Kohima exhortation has always been a bit 'difficult' as it doesn't work grammatically - it's just not correct for someone who was not involved to 'go home and say'

'For your tomorrow we gave our today'

without some additional qualification, and I think that's why the various versions were introduced - to try to make it sound as though it came from the lips of the veterans, but spoken through a third party - thus the use of 'these' etc. It's a wonderful line, but somehow remains clumsy in its form. Sorry if this is muddled - I know what I mean, but not sure if others see it the same way.

Sue

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Sue,

I think I understand..........language of the time.........

without the complete verse, written as a lament, the meaning is partly lost I feel.

This is the entire verse as written by Edmonds:

When you go home,

Tell them of us and say:

For their tomorrow,

These gave their today.

Went the day well?

We died and never knew.

But, well or ill,

Freedom, we died for you.

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I don't think the original is better - worse perhaps. 'Tell them of us and say ... ' followed by 'for their tomorrow, these gave their today...' makes it difficult to see who 'their' and 'these' refers to. I can understand why 'their tomorrow' would be substituted with 'your tomorrow(s)', but none of the versions really seem to sound right. I think we need Gwyn here!

Sue

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It works fine if we understand that it is being read as a quotation, and not as the words of the person speaking it at the ceremony.

And in the verse itself, (that) is understood:

When you go home,

Tell them of us and say (that)

For your tomorrow we gave our today.

("You", as in "your", being "all of you", the person being addressed and those they are charged with telling.)

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The fact that it's read, is probably the cause of the problem, as it's not really possible to demonstrate the quote orally. In the original, if it was strictly a quote, it would read:

When you go home,

Tell them of us and say:

For their/your tomorrow,

We gave our today.

To imply the quote in such a short verse doesn't seem to work. Simply too many pronouns.

Sue

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Tom,

looks as if they changed the wording when a new plaque was fitted (the lettering style is differnet in each photograph) - I wonder why?

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I think it would work, whether you read it, hear it or speak it, if it was:

When you go home, tell them of us and say, "For your tomorrows these gave their today".

And I think this was the original text, in which case the original author knew exactly what he wanted to convey.

Tom

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Sue,

the lament is written as if it were from one of the dead. This puts the "them","their" and "these" in to context.

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Agree completely with Squirrel's original comments and his parsing of the grammar. Antony

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Tom,

looks as if they changed the wording when a new plaque was fitted (the lettering style is differnet in each photograph) - I wonder why?

It could be something simple like when the new plaque was ordered, somebody gave the engraver a copy of the text that was to be engraved. But whoever did that only thought he knew what the original inscription was! People make mistakes with quotations all the time. We often see this here - there are lots of examples of forum members believing that an unidentified CWGC burial has "An Unknown Soldier of the Great War" on the headstone, for example. "They shall not grow old...." is another.

I should like to find out when the plaques were changed. And also when the use of the Kohima quotation as an exhortation became commonplace.

Tom

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On the general question of the style of the two quotations

I wonder if it not the case that Binyon's 1914 words speak to a generation which was more poetic by nature (and by their education perhaps) Didn't the Great War produce more poets than WWII?

The second quotation is much more direct (or modern, [despite its Greek background]) and I am assured that it is particularly liked by the surviving veterans of the second war.

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What I find most moving about the verse of Binyon's is that it was written in September 1914 by a poet of the time in Remembrance of the dead

Edmonds's verse written by a Classical Scholar has a different "lean" altogether being written as if were from the dead.

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We shall be having our Remembrance Day service at Aldworth this year (5 villages take turns to host it). Binyon is buried at Aldworth, but no one ever makes anything of this, I reckon half of 'em don't even know. :rolleyes:

I shall make sure to nip over and give him his own poppy this time. :poppy:

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Excellent Grace - the one whose words were chosen for Remembrance remembered.

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