Yesterday, we saw politicians and military figures descend upon the Cenotaph for another Remembrance day memorial. They paid tributes to all the soldiers who had given their lives to protect the United Kingdom. They were brave in a way that we cannot possibly imagine, giving up their lives for us. It is correct that we lay wreaths at the foot of memorials for these people, but what is it that we actually want to remember on the 11th of November?
If it’s bravery that we respect, then surely every town in the country should also have a memorial to the German war dead. They fought with just as much grit as we did. Yes, they were fighting for a horrific dictator but they did so with grit. Don’t forget the Russians who endured sieges and long battles in the cold when victory must have seemed impossible. Why are these war dead not being remembered?
Maybe, we want to commemorate the loss of British lives in war. In that case, surely we should also pay tribute to the people who were killed during the blitz? They, just like those that fought in Belgium and France were British people who fell victim to the German military and they too showed immense bravery, working hard to keep the world turning even when everything around them had collapsed. But we don’t remember them at the Cenotaph.
So Remembrance day is not about paying tribute to bravery or British deaths during the war. Surely then, its purpose is for us to reflect and learn from the mistakes made in the past so that we can ensure a lasting peace? Maybe. That could be why all our politicians and military personnel take part in remembrance day. By thinking about what led to such needless loss of life, we might be able to ensure the lasting peace that all those servicemen gave their lives for.
So, has the government been correctly commemorating Remembrance Day? Have we learnt from the mistakes of our own actions during World War I and II?, Dresden perhaps being one in the latter. Militarism and imperialism have led to so many conflicts in Britain’s bloody history. Millions have died for these aims and humanity has gained nothing from them.
So why did we send our troops out to defend a remote part of our feeble empire when we had no legitimate claim to it. Did we not learn that economic imperialism was a futile cause? Evidently not, as proved by the war in Iraq.
In the world wars, servicemen trusted their government to act for the good of not just the nation, but the world. That is what gave them the bravery and courage to go and defend what was right. The lasting peace that was created as a part of their legacy is being crushed by our new establishment who are tarnishing the memory of those soldiers with politics and ill thought out wars with no aim.
This year let us change this. Let us remember the dead in all wars, past or present, servicemen and civilians. The refugees and injured that war creates. Let us remember the horror of war so that we never allow it to break out again.