Unknown Warrior, what is your name? Where did you come from? Where was your home? We gaze upon the rows and rows of names: fallen brothers, fathers, sons. Who did you leave behind? A wife? A sister? A child who scarcely remembers your face? Were they left, unknowing of your fate, hoping and praying in vain for your return? We cannot fathom the horrors of war, having known only peace. Who did you think of, so far from home on the Western Front? What kept you fighting?
Unknown Warrior, what was it like? To stand amidst the field of battle, with a power unlike any other, but to be so powerless? To walk among men who may not see the coming sunrise? To hear explosions shattering the silence of the countryside, destroying both land and soldiers in one fell swoop? Who did you fight with? Beside friends, beside brothers? Beside people you had grown up with, unaware of the horrors that awaited you? Or did you fight with strangers, people unknown to you before stepping into the war zone? Beside comrades met in the ashes of anguish? How many of the friends in the trenches were friendships forged in situations of life or death? How do you go on when one of those brothers falls? Unknown Warrior, how did you die? Was it quick and painless, a bullet as you came over the top? Or were you wounded, having fought for so long, with all of your strength? Were you alone as you fell, in a strange land that was so like your own, but ravaged by shells, littered with bullets, painted in blood? Or was someone with you, to hold you as you passed, to hear your final words, your final breath? Perhaps you heard the voices of those you knew, calling out to you, calling you forwards towards a new dawn. Or perhaps you simply fell into darkness.
Unknown Warrior, are you at peace? Do you sit upon green hills under warm sunlight, far from the gunfire and bloodshed and horrors of the battlefield? Have you found those you lost to the war, to time and to bullets, in this tranquil place? Are you free from trauma, from violence, from fear? Or are you trapped in darkness with the ghosts of the fallen, stumbling endlessly, hopelessly, towards a dawn that will never break? The war destroyed all it touched. Be it fast and merciless: a bullet to the head, a bomb on a village, a knife to the gut; or slow and creeping, attacking the mind, sowing seeds of paranoia and doubt and stress until at last you crumbled and got swept into oblivion. It tore apart families and left many without closure, searching for loved ones who would never return home.
Unknown Warrior, your memorial allowed those people to grieve those who never returned, to remember them, and serves as a symbol of bravery, of courage, and of honour.
You may be unknown, but you are remembered.
Rebecca Cobb, S3
Hutchesons’ Grammar School