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On this day in 1967 Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Marxist revolutionary and physician, was executed in Bolivia aged 39.
Guevara, was an Argentinian with part Irish ancestry. His father said “the thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels”. Born into a middle class family in Buenos Aires, Guevara studied medicine and was a keen rugby player and golfer.
He travelled widely in South America and was radicalised by seeing so much poverty and disease. In his 20s he travelled to Cuba to join Castro’s revolution and rose to become his second in command. He was instrumental in getting the Russians to site their missiles in Cuba which resulted in the missile crisis of 1964. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to foment revolution abroad and was captured in Bolivia by CIA-assisted forces and summarily executed.
Today’s poem is by Lord Byron, another travelling revolutionary sympathiser, The Destruction of Sennecharib:
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
Today I pray that there will always be people prepared to fight and die for the causes that they believe in.