AN ~ This piece is just short (and for a lot of people, late) but I wrote it for ANZAC Day – the 25th April. ANZAC Day is a commemorative holiday in Australia and New Zealand; a day on which we remember our soldiers and their sacrifices, especially in World War I, especially at Gallipoli. The Gallipoli landing was a mistake, and the ANZACs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps troops) were ambushed and essentially massacred. Not a lot of people in America and such know of this holiday, but you probably have your own, similar commemorative days. Look up the poem Dulce et Decorum est if you want an idea of what Carlisle is referring to – the title is taken from the ANZAC motto Ducle et decorum est pro patria mori (It is sweet/noble and right/honorable to die for one's country).
Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight characters; they are just helpful mediums for me to get my message across to a wide audience. I also do not own Dulce et Decorum est or the Ode of Remembrance which Jasper recites at the end.
In a sheltered cove in the south of Greece, the Cullens were restfully concluding their holiday in Eastern and Central Europe. Emmett and Edward were arguing over the design of a large and elaborate sandcastle; Alice and Rose were swimming; Esme was lying on a long, flat, pool-side chair and Carlisle sat beside her, on the sand, watching their children play. Simultaneously, they realised Jasper was not among them.
From behind his parents, Jasper cleared his throat. Both twisted in their seats to look at him but, seeing his grave expression, completely readjusted their seats. Alice was out of the water in an instant, spraying Carlisle and Esme with water and sand as she skidded to a stop, throwing her arms around her husband. The others, curious and concerned, clambered up the beach towards Jasper.
"What is it, honey?" Esme asked.
"Well, I- I wanted to ask- You don't have to come with me...it might ruin the end of your holiday..."
"Jasper," Carlisle prodded gently. Jasper turned to him.
"I want to go to Gallipoli."
Carlisle's curious eyes softened with understanding. Edward edged his way to the front of the group.
"I think we should all go," he suggested. Rose and Esme glanced at each other uncertainly: hot pink bikinis were definitely inappropriate for visiting a war memorial. Alice smiled and, from under Esme's chair, produced a small, neat, knapsack.
"I brought clothes," she offered. The other girls laughed – remaining aware of the mood of course – and took the knapsack away to change.
"Yeah, bro," Emmett clapped Jasper's shoulder's supportively. "We'll all come with. Pay our respects an' all."
"Emmett!" Rose called from somewhere out of sight, "do me up?"
"Certainly," Emmett replied, disappearing.
"I'll go hire us a boat," Carlisle offered.
"I'll go too," Alice added, following her father but glancing back at Jasper and Edward, who now stood alone on the beach. Carlisle paused to wait for her, and seeing his curious gaze, she murmured; "This means so much to those two. I wonder how they're going to handle it."
"Mm," Carlisle nodded in agreement, his solemn eyes straying back to the boys on the beach. It didn't look like they had moved. "Dulce et decorum est," he murmured sadly. "So many young men marched off to war, thinking it was glorious. Australia – a young country back then, only just free from British rule – lots thousands of boys on that beach, as young as Edward...and younger." He shook his head. Alice touched his hand.
"Come on," she encouraged gently. "Let's go."
Dusk settled over the land and the Cullens huddled around a large, white, limestone tomb: the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Every horizontal surface was buried inches-deep in flowers, but each of the Cullens bore one more to give.
"Alice, would you care to go first?" Carlisle offered quietly. Alice nodded and stepped up to the platform.
"Today I remember the brave men who have been forgotten." She spoke as if reciting a poem. "Courageous acts never rewarded, heroes whose names were never recorded...We will remember them."
She placed her flower, an elegant purple lily, on the tomb and stepped back, and Emmett took her place.
"Today I remember the dedication of the fallen," he murmured, choked up just a little. "Despite heavy hearts, heavy packs, tired muscles and cruel conditions, they fought with all their might. We will remember them."
He placed his flower, a simple sun daisy, beside Alice's and stepped back. Rosalie put a hand on his arm, concerned, before stepping up to the tomb.
"Today I remember the women who took up arms on the home front to keep their countries running back home. Not a lot of people remember that the Allies would have been completely economically sunk if it weren't for these women, and so today, we will remember them."
Rose placed a stalk of bluebells beside Emmett's daisy and retreated. Carlisle brought to the platform a pink carnation, which he placed on the other side of Alice's lily.
"Today I remember the civilians – on both sides, for the Allies were not the only brave and enduring souls who suffered. Every man, woman and child who took a blow for something that someone else did deserves to be remembered and consoled for their losses. We will remember them."
Carlisle stood for a moment longer before returning to his place, and then Esme took a deep breath and made her way to the tomb. She placed her daffodil beside Carlisle's carnation and, after a moment to gather her thoughts, lifted her head and spoke.
"Today..." her voice threatened to give out, but she contained herself and soldiered on. "Today I remember the women at home who lost loved ones to the black pit of war – fathers, brothers...sons. Their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed by those who remain. We will remember them."
She returned to her place and silence fell over the small crowd. The family remained still until, as the sun's dying rays threatened to disappear, Edward approached, bearing a white rose that looked as though the very tip of each petal had been dipped in blood. His hand shook a little as he put it beside the others' flowers.
"Today I remember the men who had to stay back home, because of injuries or sickness or...personal conditions." He smiled ruefully. "Marked by white feathers, there was no escaping the hatred and ridicule they faced every single day, for the four years of the war and – some of them – for every day of the rest of their lives. We will remember them." He reached into his pocket and withdrew a white feather, tarnished to a speckled beige by the many years that had passed since he received it. After a moment's silence, he retreated.
Jasper took his brother's place with a solemn expression. He bore a sprig of rosemary, which he placed higher than most of the flowers; the top of a large stone cross that protruded from the monument. He stood still, silent, for a long while; the carnage of war playing like an old film reel in his head. He contemplated all that his family had reflected upon, and the knowledge that throughout this whole day, people all over the world – be it in ceremonies of thousands, like the one which would have been in this very place at dawn, or private gatherings like the one here now – were remembering soldiers and their sacrifices made him smile.
He lifted his head at last, and recited the famous but always heartfelt words:
"They shall not grow 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."