All countries have bugle calls dedicated to their fallen in their military ceremonial. In Spain it is called “Toque de Oración”, in the US “Taps” and in the Commonwealth countries “Last Post”.
I must say that the Spanish “Toque de Oración” is my favorite, for its beauty and solemnity, but there are two countries that have especially beautiful military bugle calls. In Poland they play the “Śpij kolego” (Sleep comrade), which emerged from a 1916 Polish song, “Jakto na wojence ładnie”, which in its seventh stanza said these beautiful words dedicated to the fallen companion:
“Śpij kolego w tym grobie,
Niech się Polska przyśni tobie”.
“Sleep comrade in this grave,
May Poland dream to you”.
In Germany they have one of the oldest songs dedicated to the fallen: “Der gute Kamerad” (The good comrade). It was written by the German poet Ludwig Uhland in 1809, and composer Friedrich Silcher put music in 1826. It is an official song of the German Armed Forces since 1871, and it has become so famous that versions have been written in other languages, Spanish included. Its first stanza says the following:
“Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden,
Einen bessern findst du nit.
Die Trommel schlug zum Streite,
Er ging an meiner Seite
In gleichem Schritt und Tritt”.
“I once had a comrade,
You will find no better.
The drum called us to battle,
He walked by my side,
In the same pace and step.”.
Last Sunday, Germany celebrated the Volkstrauertag (literally, “People’s Day of Mourning”), a celebration that was held for the first time in the Reichstag (as it was called then) in 1922, during the Weimar Republic, to remember the German soldiers fallen in World War I. Hitler’s regime changed this celebration’s name and meaning, but it was recovered in 1952 to remind all the fallen of all nations, both military and civilian, who died in warlike conflicts or victims of oppression. Annually, two Sundays before the beginning of Advent, a ceremony is held at the Bundestag in which “Der gute Kamerad” sounds.
This year the ceremony had a novelty: before the German military musician, a Polish military musician played the “Śpij kolego”, a very exciting moment on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, which began World War II. You can see it in the video that the Polish Army Representation Orchestra shared on its YouTube channel today:
Hopefully, twinning acts like this one help to close the enormous wounds that the war between the two Nations opened, especially those caused by the terror and genocide unleashed by the Third Reich in Poland.
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