Thursday, 9 November 2017

We Must Never Stop Remembering

Historian Simon Jenkins writes in The Guardian about the need for Remembrance Day to be forgotten and the wars and conflicts of the 20th Century to be left there.  I am writing about why he couldn't be more wrong...

This year, like many before it, I will spend Remembrance Sunday honouring those who paid the sacrifice for my freedom and I have bought a poppy out of respect. I am not alone as, up and down the country in churches, at the Cenotaph and other memorial sites, people gather to remember. I do so silently and privately but at the same time knowing my tears and thoughts join with others as we think on the many wars that have been fought over the passing years. As the number of Veterans who played their part in the World Wars pass away there have been more and more calls challenging why these two conflicts should be remembered. Jenkins isn't the only voice to call out for an end to Remembrance Sunday believing that the "corporate poppy" is just a formality that we all go through and that it lacks any real important sentiment or thought. He is wrong and to say so is not only offensive to the many of us who want to honour our relatives who fought in those wars but it is also very dangerous. The fact that I can write this article and that we have a (sort of) free press is because of the battles fought on our behalf and if we forget, then the forces of evil that threatened us all, those decades ago, will rise again. We remember because we must and because it is our honour to do so. As we stand silently marking the 2 minute silence we are united as one in our remembrance that militant might threatening to destroy and rob us of freedom must not go unchallenged.

Both my Grandads played their part in World War II and yet they never really spoke of what they witnessed. They stood because the horror of a country ruled by the Third Reich wasn't something they were prepared to just accept. Every year after the war ended they would honour their fallen friends and promise that never again would a dictator be allowed to threaten so many lives. Remembrance Sunday is a day when I bow to my Grandad's bravery and to the strength of thousands of people like him who refused to do nothing when Hitler was destroying and murdering. I buy a poppy because I want to give the little that I have to support families who struggle and are so criminally unsupported by an uncaring Government. Service to our country should mean something and those that have suffered grievous loss should be protected by the state. I can do so little but I can honour with a badge that symbolises everything that my heart feels. I am so proud of both my Grandads and I stand in awe at anyone that is prepared to fight for others freedom. Our freedom of speech was brought at a great price and is spattered with the blood of those that died preserving it. When people like Jenkins write about forgetting they are guilty of ignoring the very reason that Remembrance Sunday was set up in place. The passing of time mists all of our memories and generational gaps can lessen the personal nature of loss- but it still remains #LEST WE FORGET

When we remember the battles of the 20th Century and honour the "glorious dead" the wording is important. We do not revel in the conflict, in the blood shed but the cause that was fought for. We are still horrified with the millions of people that were slaughtered in the Concentration Camps and for the tragic loss of life that is caused by any conflict. Hitler famously commented about his signature on the appeasement order, brokered by British PM Chamberlain, "he seemed to want my autograph" There are leaders in this world for whom no amount of sanctions or peace treaties will stop, no amount of reasoning will stem their lust for power. Yes, Jenkins is right in that remembering conflicts and battles has so far prevented further wars and conflicts and we always seem to be just on the precipice of a third World War, but it has not happened yet! Just because Remembrance Sunday hasn't brought about world peace doesn't mean we should forget the past. I am appalled that a noted and well read historian can seriously believe that it is possible to forget the past or that it should be beneficial to do so. I would suggest that the time to consider consigning the wars of the previous century to the past is when we have learnt the lessons they have taught us. When we refrain from democratically electing leaders who stand not for freedom for all and for an end to poverty and the politics of hate. Our country is governed by a party who seeks to make the rich even more so at the great cost of those who struggle, who are poor and freezing to death. It is exactly this sort of putrid breeding ground that led to Germany crying out in their starvation and Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews. It will be time to forget the importance of fighting for those who have no voice and are downtrodden when we stop crushing the disabled, the elderly and the poor and when White Supremist hatred is abolished forever.

No, Simon Jenkins you are wrong because in 2017 it has never been more important that bow we  our heads and remember the fallen. This Remembrance Sunday will be marked by the majority and so will the next one and the next one because history tells us that we don't ever learn and we continue to commit the same atrocities and make the same mistakes.

I stand for The Fallen

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