War and Remembrance

2014 marks the centenary of the start of the Great War. We Brits love to wallow in the past. Needless to say there have been commemorations all year – books, exhibitions, documentaries and the like. Mercifully, few have been sullied with jingoism. The First World War started as a glorified pissing contest between the European Great Powers (‘My dreadnought’s bigger than your dreadnought’) and ended with the slaughter of nine million combatants and seven million civilians. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Fat chance. Man’s appetite for killing has remained stubbornly undiminished. Sometimes, though, something makes you stop and think. Such is the field of 888, 246 blood red poppies pouring out of a gun port at the Tower of London, each one representing a fallen British, Dominion or Empire soldier. The display has caused quite a stir – for and against. It’s just so much hot air, signifying nothing (to badly paraphrase the Bard). What is certain is that the flood of ceramic poppies has become one of the most visited exhibitions ever. Anything that reminds us all of the general futility of war is fine with me.

19 thoughts on “War and Remembrance

  1. Oh, what a lovely commemoration! And I particularly like the way they spill out of the gun port. I am wishing now I could afford to come see this. I think it is fitting, beautiful, and about as depressing as it should be.
    So much red! So much blood. Why can’t we learn?

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      1. It is exactly pretty and does not even slightly touch on the horrifying nature or the total uselessness of WWI. When artist Otto Dix showed his opinion of WWI with a skull and worms crawling out of its mouth and eye holes THAT was an honest depiction of that war. This is nothing more than an effort by the warmongers to convince a populace of how wonderful and uplifting war is and was.

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  2. sentimental twaddle-mongers peddling hypocricy! When will ‘ordinary’ people, workers if you like, get past the artificial construct of the nation and its so-called interests? When has there ever been a ‘just war’? I can name two that might just sneak in and neither of them were fought by European/Western ‘nations’. War are fought by ordinary people (us) against other ordinary people (us) for the benefit of small minorities in the various ‘nations’ (them). As for the poppy day ‘show’, they even had the gall to take Eric Bogle’s anti-war song and strip out the bits that pointed out the futility of war! What we need is a world where war memorials, war creating elites, armies and yes, even the British Legion are fading memories of a disfunctional, destructive system. Utopian? I’ll go with that.

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    1. Now calm down, Alan, you’ll give yourself a seizure ;-). I agree, most wars are futile and self-serving. Alas, we’ll all be drowned by rising sea levels or blown to pieces long before anything approaching Utopia emerges, assuming such a thing could ever exist.

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  3. The problem with it is that there is nothing in that ‘commemoration’ that “reminds us all of the general futility of war…” Instead it prettifies it and strips out the horrible fact that it was a war to for nothing. Millions of people on both sides suffered immensely and died for nothing whatsoever.

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