A Time To Remember

When I was born, the Korean War was still being fought. The Second World War had only ended seven years earlier, and many more wars were still to come during my lifetime. Today in the UK, and all across Europe, we have been commemorating the anniversary of the second day of World War One, one hundred years ago today. Britain remembers today, as we declared war on Germany on this date. However, the day before, Belgium had been invaded, and Liege attacked.

There have been ceremonies in France, Belgium, the UK, and many other countries. In Britain tonight, many of us turned off our lights at 10pm, using only one candle for illumination, for one hour of remembrance. TV documentaries and live broadcasts have covered everything, from church services in London, to interviews with long-dead veterans; tears in their eyes as they remembered the hardships and loss decades earlier. It has been a day of reflection, respect, and nostalgia. There has been no jingoism, no chest-thumping, and no satisfaction. Just regret and sorrow, for millions lost, and lessons still not learned.

I will not be here for the 200th anniversary of that war. I doubt very much that I will see the centenary of the Second World War either, or for that matter, the Korean War. But I was around for this one, which is more than can be said for those that fought in it. They are no longer here, to be able to tell us their individual stories. Thanks to film, TV, radio, and newspapers, we do have some first-hand tales of their experiences. They are usually harrowing, often touching, and to our modern eyes and ears, they may seem naive and innocent. Whatever we think of them now, we at least owe them one thing. It is an easy thing, and takes little effort. They did things that we probably could not do, or want to do, They did them for reasons that seemed important at the time, and in the context of history, had a relevance in the development of Europe, and opposition to belligerence. In return, we can do one small thing.

We can remember them.

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10 thoughts on “A Time To Remember

  1. Thank you for reminding all of us that great sacrifices were made 100 years ago. Today, the global war on terror continues unabated, and so do regional wars in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere. Although we weary of these new challenges to peace and tranquility, we must continue to be vigilant and, if necessary, engage ourselves in the fight. We must uphold our Western values, when they are threatened, and ensure that all people enjoy what Thomas Jefferson called our unalienable right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Thanks to modern warfare technology, when employed, today’s battles often incur fewer casualties, both military and civilian, but, of course, any loss of life is totally unacceptable. Life is quite simply a precious gift.

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    1. Thanks for the comment David. I sometimes wonder if those ‘Western values’ are all that they are cracked up to be, but we do at least enjoy the freedom to complain about things, so should cherish that.
      Best wishes from England, Pete.

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  2. What I know of WWII were personal accounts from my grandparents and from mom and dad. They retold how it started here, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invasion and everything they could remember. Through books, I got to know how it was in Europe at the start of the conflict, the concentration camps in Poland. One of my favorite books is Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, his personal account as an inmate at Auschwitz concentration camp. People were not called by their names but they were just numbers. Such a sad fact in world history. Despite all these, some countries in the Middle East are still at it.

    I am on my second book, Ken Follett’s Winter of the World, a continuation of how WWI ended and how WWII started. Although it is a work of fiction, still, I am learning a lot from it.

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    1. Your country had a very hard time during WW2 Arlene, but was fortunately spared any involvement in the Great War. As you say, some countries find it impossible to learn the lessons of history.
      Best wishes from England, Pete.

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