Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remembrance Day

When I think of Remembrance Day, I think of sitting in my Primary School assembly hall trying my best to imagine what it must of been like fighting in the war. It takes a long time and a lot of reflection to really understand what humanity loses in a war, especially what we lost in World War One. When I think of the First World War, I'm filled with sadness because it was, quite simply, mass slaughter.

In France, Remembrance Day is even bigger than in England. There is no 2 minute silence at 11 o'clock, instead it's a national holiday. So, whilst I was sitting at home watching the usual processions on TV and listening to the commentator saying that all soldiers from WW1 are now dead I began to wonder. . .

Why are there no German soldiers involved in the Remembrance ceremonies ?

When this question is considered carefully (and without bias), the only logical conclusion one can come to is that they should be there. The lower ranks in the German Army were not bad guys. They were following orders, just in the same way our men were. And I really do believe, that when someone is holding a gun to your head saying 'Kill or be killed', you'd pull the trigger of your own gun. You'd kill.

However, this isn't the only thing that got me, I realised something else and it hit home very hard. The Second World War was supposed to be the war to end all wars. And evidently it was not. As technology and ideologies have changed and developed war has become more frequent and more dangerous - one man could kill millions from pressing a button in his office. We, as a nation and as a world have become used to this fact and so are fairly blasé about the wars that have happened since the war which was to end all wars. And so we continue to celebrate the triumphs of our men without really acknowledging the warning Remembrance Day is supposed to give us. I can completely understand that in some cases, war is unavoidable but I do feel that we are forgetting why Remembrance Day is there, it's a lesson from ourselves to future generations, it's a message saying: War is bad. Avoid it if you can.

As I have grown up, Remembrance Day has taken on a new meaning to me, from the child that stood in the hall trying to imagine the mud, hunger, fear and disease I have become a young adult who reflects on how, from the beginning of time, men and women who should not have been fighting ended up in wars that should never have been allowed to happen. Remembrance Day has turned into a day where I ask myself, why.

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