In a week where we’re asked remember the costs and sacrifices of war, it would be tasteless to engage in party politics. Instead, we should use this opportunity to recognise the enduring role of Remembrance in our community.
Next year is the centenary of the armistice which marked the end of the First World War on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Whilst in the UK, Remembrance is largely observed on the Sunday, for most former Allied Powers commemoration takes place on 11th November.
Indeed, for its first twenty years, Britain held its main acts of Remembrance on Remembrance Day and it was only WW2 and the need to avoid any loss of weekday production which led to Remembrance Sunday becoming preeminent.
The fact is Remembrance, in what we choose to remember and how we choose to do so, is not one continuous unbroken tradition back to November 1919. Remembrance Day began as a time for mourning the loss of life during one particular war, a war where most people would have lost family or friends, and over the years it expanded to acknowledge the contribution of all those who had fought in the conflict. The outbreak of the Second World War, gave people cause to remember the loss of life in another war and so it has continued with every subsequent deployment.
Since the beginning there has been a tension between the importance of remembering and concerns over the risk of glorifying war. Despite the pageantry, I have never attended any Remembrance event where war appeared to be glorified, in fact many services go out of their way to acknowledge the full impact of violent conflict upon all those involved. Yet, I know people who hold this concern and it’s one I respect.
Yet, the important thing is not your personal view on past wars, whether you attend a service, or if you wear a red poppy, white poppy or none at all, but rather that we take this opportunity to think about conflict and consider all the varied costs and sacrifices it involves.