Today is remembrance Sunday, and as a Scout leader I joined the local parade and service. I used to participate in this every year when I was a teenager as part of the army cadets, but this is the first year I had a remote understanding what it is we are remembering.
As it is 100 years since the outbreak of WWI, there has been a lot of documentaries and dramas on the BBC this year. Through these I have learned so much, often more than I could deal with emotionally. Yet I am still aware that I have no real comprehension of life during the world wars, let alone life in the trenches.
What I do know is war is just as terrible if you are fighting on the other side. Today the Padre said something that horrified me. He said ‘we should take pride that those young men died (during the world wars) fighting a wicked and evil enemy’. I can understand family members feeling pride that their son fought for justice and peace. I can understand that those who created the wars were/are wicked and evil (at least in our point of view). But I also know that those men didn’t die fighting those who had started the war; they died fighting men exactly like themselves. Those men believed they were fighting for peace and justice, just as much as our men did. War makes everyone the same, and to imply it is heroic in any sense, is to avoid the issue of the fact they are fighting for their beliefs as those on the other side are fighting for theirs. When we remember those that gave their todays so we could live in this tomorrow, we shouldn’t only remember those from our own countries, but those from every country.
We remember so their lives weren’t given in vain, that’s what we like to tell ourselves. Yet, to me, it seems as if we haven’t learnt anything from the horrendousness and tragedy of the world wars. People are still fighting. They say it is to maintain peace, but all I can see is death and pain and sorrow.