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they shall grow not old british legion

they shall grow not old british legion. I was asked today about the origins of The Exhortation; I knew it was an excerpt from Robert Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen,” but I naively thought it was written only after the end of World War One. Actually, it was written in the middle of September 1914, only a few weeks after The War had already begun. Heavy losses were sustained by the British Expeditionary Force in the early stages of the war, particularly at the initial encounter with the German Imperial Army at the Battle of Mons on the 23rd of August, the rearguard action during the retreat from Mons in late August, and the Battle of Cateau on the 26th of August. Heavy casualties were also sustained by the BEF and the French Army during the First Battle of the Marne, which took place between September 5th and September 9th, 2014.

they shall grow not old british legion
they shall grow not old british legion

As it appeared in its entirety in the 21 September 1914 issue of The Times newspaper.

With Respect to the Departed

As a mother would for her children, England expresses sorrow for her lost soldiers across the ocean with a sense of proud gratitude.

They shared the same DNA as her, and they shared the same soul.

They gave their lives for the freedom of others.

The throbbing of the drums is solemn; Death is regal and august.

Raise the cries of sadness above the realms of mortals.

While we may be in a time of sadness, we can take comfort in the fact that there is beauty even in the midst of our tears.

Physically and mentally sound; unwavering; bright and steady.

They fought valiantly until the end, against insurmountable odds, and they surrendered while facing their attackers.

They won’t age the way the rest of us do; they won’t get tired of life or feel judged by the passage of time.

We will think of them as the sun sets and rises.

They no longer associate with their jovial peers;

They no longer dine at home, have no stake in the day’s work, and spend their nights in a place far beyond England’s foam.

But in the depths of their own country, they are as familiar as the stars at night because they know where our deepest desires and hopes lie.

they shall grow not old british legion
they shall grow not old british legion