I have Grandad’s medals and military photos from WW1… and, looking through them, I can’t help but wonder what became of those young men, their families… what was the future for those who survived… pretty bleak I suppose…
Within living memory for very few now. A great sacrifice for all concerned, whatever side they fought on, like most concerned my family lost loved ones in this and other conflicts !
At the risk of being’ shot down in flames’, I dare to ask this question …
Just how long do we go on commemerating wars/victories ?
Good topic for discussion… so I’ve amended the Title.
Here’s my understanding of things…
In our village, from time to time, we have solemn marches/ceremonies. These are not only to honour those who died for their country… but also to remember the horror that war/conflict brings to ALL those involved… in the hope that by recalling this we will do our utmost to avoid war/conflict in the future.
Yes I understand that Stella, I have also taken part in these ‘ceremonies’ in the past. I do however think that its time that things now change. My personal feeling is that to see little ‘tots’ chanting by rote ‘morte pour la France’ is no longer appropriate.
The world as we knew in our younger times has changed, thankfully for the better, because my generation took no part in the ‘great wars’. My family has talked about what happened, about loved ones that were lost.
Why then hand these things down to a generation that should be looking towards the future ?
If we continue with these ‘ceromonies’ when will it ever end ? Yes it’s important that we don’t make the same mistakes. However, cheap travel, internet and instant news has broadened the horizons and I don’t feel that we should burden our future generations with the mistakes/events of the past.
I still hear people of a certain generation talk about how the Japs, Huns, can’t be trusted…terrible to pass those predujices on.
It is a good topic for discussion…I would like to see what others think …
I think history is an important subject for kids, and reminders of the horrors of conflicts are valuable, as an ‘attempt’, to ensure, the same mistakes are not repeated.
Of course… there are conflicts more recent than WWI and WWII… here in France the Algerian War is still an “open-wound” for many old soldiers and families… Those folk never want to see such things occur again…
and the UK has had its own conflicts…
I’m a firm believer that the horrors of war shouldn’t be forgotten, but Ann makes a very good point.
My OH is President of two associations in memory of WW11 and the war in algeria in which my OH fought …why do we keep the memory alive is to honour our soldiers who lost their lives for France. In our sector there is one 100 year old solder still living but cannot remember much today. I believe it was misty 36140 who asked how long these celebrations are going to last. well they are dying slowly but surely .one day in the futur there will be nothing left .we are asked by the head master in our village to come along and tell the youngsters what they wish to know.Once every two years we are invited to go the arc de triomphe to light the unknown soldiers flame. Extremely emotionel for all of us.For myself it is important to present all the memories to the young .
that is my opinion .i was born in 1943 so i didnt see the war in UK but believe me the french who lived through WW11 havent forgotten it
Two sides to this I agree. I did have a moment when reading our news here this morning which made me wonder what my take is on this subject and found myself having conflicting views.,
One of the last surviving RAF “aces” died recently just prior to his 98th birthday. There was an article about him and pictures of him with his medals and with Prince Charles .We’ve had flypasts and other “occasions” here to commemorate 100 years of the RAF so this article presumably formed part of that commemorative event. The article explained that the term ace is given to a pilot who has shot down five enemy aircraft.
The gentleman is described in the article as a hero. This was where I started to have doubts.
Whilst I think most people agree that war is one of the most horrific events, must be prevented at all costs and we all hope it will never happen again I had trouble with the word hero.
He was a modest man by all accounts but the article says he was decorated for his bravery and it hails him for the many missions he flew . What it fails to mention is how many people his missions killed. Or what the families of those he killed feel. I ended up feeling that hero was perhaps an inappropriate word. I intend no disrespect but I felt the word should be used for those who risk their lives for others (firefighters, cave rescuers etc etc) not perhaps for someone who after all is said and done has killed many people, albeit as part of his duty and during wartime . Many soldiers who were forced to fight face to face never came to terms with the fact that they killed another human being even in a wartime scenario. The article didn’t seem to ask him what his thoughts were on that and I guess now we will never know.
Thoughtful post V
I think we should honour those who lost their lives in conflicts and educate the young that war should be avoided at all costs.
I think you need empathy for people like the young man he was in the 1940s who risked his life daily to protect his country and its inhabitants. He did not fly for sport, he did not kill for enjoyment, I’m sure that he spent a lot of his time wishing that he was somewhere else doing something else but he did what few people would be prepared to do for the good of his nation. After doing his bit for his country he reverted back to the person he was before he rose to the challenge of war. He, and thousands more like him were heroes in their day and remain heroes to most people even in the over politically correct twenty first century.
Dominic. As I think I said or at least implied in my post I have the utmost respect and empathy for the gentleman. I respect what he and those like him did . Please don’t accuse me of not having empathy. I did not in any way suggest he killed for enjoyment and I’m sure he was like many put in his position probably haunted by what he had by duty to do , although as there is no reporting of his views on that so we shall never know . I’m sure from what his family said about him he was a gentle kind retiring man in his everyday life. I would never disrespect those who by fate found themselves caught up fighting for , defending or protecting their families and loved ones in a conflict not of their making. The gentleman in question did what he had to do because it was wartime and he was following orders. I think you’ll find I said as much . I’m not questioning his actions but the language used to describe those actions. At the end of the day people were killed. How or why or by whom or what that person was like in everyday life was not the issue . They were still killed. To call that act heroic seems, to me at least somewhat in appropriate. Those who’s families were decimated would surely not use that word. My own father saw active service in the Royal Navy . He never forgot those days or losing his brother to war . He didn’t want to be responsible for killing people but may by his actions have done so. He was conscripted to serve his country at the age of 18. He did not view his role as “heroic”. He did it of necessity . He had no option - the law required him to join the Navy. My comment wasn’t about the man or even about war it was about the use of language . The use specifically of the word “hero”. A word which perhaps has come to have a different meaning in recent times - as I said - I associate it more with putting ones own life at risk in dangerous situations - firefighters, search & rescue etc not with killing people . Yes I know some dictionary definitions refer to war situations but the origin of the word is interesting:-
USAGE: Greek Mythology
OTHER SCRIPTS: ‘Ηρω (Ancient Greek)
PRONOUNCED: HIR-o (English) [details]
Meaning & History
Derived from Greek ‘ηρως (heros) meaning “hero”. In Greek legend she was the lover of Leander, who would swim across the Hellespont each night to meet her. He was killed on one such occasion when he got caught in a storm while in the water, and when Hero saw his dead body she drowned herself.
Whilst I can understand some of Vanessa’s reservations…
I agree with Dominic that things need to be considered in relation to when (which era) heroic events occurred… and are still occurring…
Frankly, anyone who puts their own life on the line for others… gets my vote as a “Hero”…
My nephew volunteered for a 6-month stint in Afghanistan… aged 19 he went armed with his medical skills… (his Mum and I were terrified for him). He came back safely, thank heavens, having seen and having had to deal with the most awful situations. Our family seems to have a “hero gene” running through it (on the male side at least)… and we are all very proud of him. I do not know if he had to kill anyone, we have not discussed that aspect…
I am content with the certainty that he would have done whatever was necessary to protect himself and those he was trying to help.
Stella asks the question, what became of those young men (those that survived)? I know the answer regarding one of them very well, my father. He was wounded during the first week of the battle of the Somme just three weeks short of his 17th birthday and was repatriated to the UK. One year later he returned to France to fight again, this time in the same battalion as his brother who was sadly killed in action at Passchendaele. At the end of hostilities in 1918 after a brief posting to Italy my father, now a corporal returned to the UK, remained in the Army, married in 1919 and was medically dishcharged with a defective heart the same year. Together wih my mother he brought up four children, myself now being the sole survivor. He died of lung cancer in 1968. His framed WWI medals adorn the wall of a room in my house here in France. It is with my father and his brother in mind that I always accept the invitation to attend the ceremony at the local memorial on November 11th each year.
Our commune is already planning something “special” to mark the 100 years… 1918-2018. Everyone has been asked to dig out photos, souvenirs, letters… whatever. The Fallen… did not necessarily fall in battle, but survived and suffered long after…
My Gran never forgot the young man who sent her a scribbled note from the trenches at Ypres… a gentle letter to a young lady, saying how he hoped they would meet again… He died later that day, but she kept his note and I am its guardian now.
Hero’s??? Having served in HM Forces and various places throughout my career, I do not believe that any member of HM Forces consider themselves a hero. NOW before some of you jump on that very high horse and say WHAT!!!
When have you ever heard a Military person saying “oh yes I am a hero” well the answer is never. Why? because they will see it as doing there job for King/Queen and Country.
But let’s remember that a lot A VERY LOT of men and women have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we who are living today can do so in the freedom that we enjoy. So back to the original question:- when should we stop commemorating…Never, it’s quite simple, acts of remembrance are about every battle / conflict or war that has taken place whether in our time or generations before. So lets not forget those who gave us our freedom today.
I heartily agree with you… the “heroes” never see themselves as such… it is us on the outside who name them thus…
My nephew does not consider himself a “hero”… he merely did what he felt was right… but he is a “hero” as far as his family is concerned. My Dad was also a “hero”…but, it was only by meeting some of his crew in his latter years, that I learned what he had actually got up to… he was always self-effacing and worked tirelessly to help those less fortunate than he was.