I will sing a young man’s song
That you would sing
On Remembrance day
I will be the sacrifice
And bells will ring
On Remembrance Day
One hundred years ago on the 11th November 1914, 777 mostly men from the British Empire died, bringing the Empire’s total to 27636, killed or in other ways died because of the Great War up until the 12th November 1914, . It was just another day in the trenches. Not that you would know this by looking at the media or reading social media. There is the now being dismantled display of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. an incredible art work I had the good fortune of seeing. It caught the public’s imagination. Each poppy represents one of the Empire’s war dead in, or directly attributable to that horrendous war. One hundred years ago over 850.000 of those service people had something in common with you and me, They were alive. The poppies at the Tower were not a tribute to the dead, they were a salute to those who were going to die Most died brutal deaths and in various degrees of agony.
Remembrance Day/Sunday/Armistice Day is now about more than the Great War. Since 1918 the UK has fought wars against the Abdo, Afghans, Argentinians, Chinese, Chinese-Malayans, Egyptians, Germans, Indonesians, Irish, Iraqi’s Israelis, Italians, Japanese, Libyans, Mau Mau, North Koreans, Russians, Slavs Viet Cong, Vietnamese, and others. The UK has fought wars in Aden, Belgium, Cyrenaica, France, Malaya, Sierra Leone. all over the world places Thomas Cook has yet to venture. We even invaded Anguilla. War not football is our national pastime. That is not remembered. Most of it is not remembered. No-one is told to remember them. We were not there. Great Uncle Tommy who died in these wars is not remembered because we did not know him. We are told who to remember. Told about our relatives who died in the Great War, we do not at the going down of the sun remember them. We are told who to commemorate, and what to say.
Now we are told to remember “Fritz”. He walked the same earth, breathed the same air. So did Anne Frank and Adolf Hitler. We are not equal in death, only equally dead. We are also told to remember those driven mad by war, the insane, the wounded, the blinded, the half dead. The widows those who wished they had died. The parents the sons and the daughters. We should remember them, but not on Remembrance Sunday. Remembrance Sunday is when we remember our war dead. Two minutes, that is all, one day a year, just for our dead, That is what Remembrance Sunday is for. Not for those of other countries, not for the wounded, the widowed, or the insane.
It is not that I dislike Remembrance Sunday, I do, it is just that I rarely get the chance to use the phrase “Sanctimonious Twoddle”. This year that is exactly what it has become. Wars are horrible bloody affairs, People are gassed, starved, burnt, shot, bludgeoned, and countless other ways killed in them, by them, or die because of them. Until we are terrified of them and we teach our children the horrors of war we are condemned to repeat them, and have more dead to remember.