August 4th 2014 is the 100th anniversary of Great Britain declaring war on Germany, throwing us into World War 1. It’s a war that changed the world, but some people say we shouldn’t be bothering about it…
In fact, the line I see a lot is that it’s not something to be celebrated. Well, all you have to do is substitute the word ‘celebrate’ with ‘remember’ and that should change the perspective. It’s not being celebrated, it’s being remembered, and it *has* to be remembered.
750,000 British soldiers killed, 16 million killed in total. At the battle of The Somme, 60,000 British soldiers died. That’s 60,000 in one day.
The war was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Of course, it didn’t end all wars, in fact it could be argued that the way the end of the war was handled led to the second World War, and the conflicts in the Middle East too.
It was a war that started over the assassination of one man, which drew in the German Kaiser, and then it was down to political alliances, mistakes and misunderstandings which escalated the conflict to pull in the rest of the world.
The stories of the war are many, but whenever I think of the war I think of soldiers in the trenches. They were cold, hungry, tired and scared, and that’s how they died. They went over the top of the trenches to be mown down by machine guns.
Young men rushed to sign up to fight at the start, but the figures like the 60,000 deaths in one day at The Somme meant that Britain was simply running out of soldiers, so had to call up men. Young men who had been living their normal lives in Britain, suddenly found themselves in the horror of war, and if they didn’t fight they were shot by their own side.
It’s hard to imagine what that must have been like.
There are no living survivors left now, so it’s up to us to choose whether to remember, or to choose to forget. I choose to remember, and to be honest I can’t understand why anyone should say we should forget.
Here’s a poem called Futility, written by soldier Wilfred Owen.
Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.
Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?
Wilfred Owen was killed a few days before the end of the war in November 1918.
4th August 2014 – 100 years on from an event that did indeed change the world, it’s not a celebration, it’s remembering, and we have to remember.
Let me know what you think.
‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,