“Lest we forget”


Woodbury Town Cemetery, Woodbury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

I first recall that phrase from the John Wayne movie “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”, directed by John Ford. It’s the words inscribed on the back of a pocket watch given to Wayne’s character by his Troop as a token of their respect upon his eminent retirement. The tough, but sentimental Wayne tears up, and has to blow his nose to hide his emotion. It’s the kind of scene Wayne was wonderful at, and Ford wisely handled with just the right touch.

Those words were the refrain from a Rudyard Kipling poem titled “Recessional” written for the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. And there is the problem, but only a small one. The movie takes place only recently after the end of the American Civil War in 1865, (in fact one of the small side stories is that some of the soldiers serving with Wayne were former Confederate soldiers now serving in the Union Army), and the poem would not yet have been written. It’s a small thing, and in no way detracts from the movie, but it’s interesting.

I’m a sucker for walking through cemeteries, and there are no shortage of them in Connecticut. They perhaps are not as well tended as they might be in some places, but on just about any given day you will find someone has left a flag on one of the markers, “lest we forget”.

Olympus OMD EM1 with 12-40mm f2.8 lens, processed in Snapseed.


One comment on ““Lest we forget”

  1. nikkorbacher says:

    Your narrative brings several things to mind. First, though I know Ford/Wayne were a masterful combination, to this day I cannot separate Wayne the actor from Wayne the man. We were at such different ends of the politcal spectrum in the 1970s.
    Second, I’m reading a book on the run-up to WWI. Queen V’s Diamond Jubilee gets prominent mention in the book. Britain was already at odds with several other European states and so the Jubilee was billed as a colonial event, so Germans and French wouldn’t be insulted at not having been invited.
    Third, “Recessional” led me to all kinds of erroneous thinking in that it reminded me of Purcell’s piece Funeral Music for Queen Mary. That piece does have a Drum Recessional movement. Other than that, in regard to the Queen V it was the wrong Queen, it was the wrong century, and it was the wrong event being ritualed. At least it’s fitting for your cemetery photo.


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