I can sometimes be rather a "cold fish" when it comes to taking part in, and expressing myself in a public way on these "national days" set aside for either remembrance or celebration. I am very grateful to all the brave soldiers who fought, many of whom died or suffered physical and/or mental wounds, in order to defeat aggressors and safeguard our liberty. Their sacrifice does mean something to me, and I do spend time thinking about it, and I may touch upon the subject in conversations with those I know. But that’s as far as I want to take it (except, obviously, for posting about it here) – there is something in my personality that feels no need to make an outward show to the world at large. I respect and commend people for wearing the poppy, but I don’t wear one myself, because to me it would be superfluous and unnecessary. I know what my own thoughts are, and I hope that the absence of a poppy on my lapel today does not make any passer-by think that I therefore lack the underlying sentiments – I don’t, I just prefer to keep them largely to myself. (though as I say, I feel comfortable sharing a few thoughts on ATW, as I think I’m amongst friends here). I just….I think that for me, celebration is something best enjoyed en-masse, whereas the sombre occasion of remembrance (as well as charitable giving, for example) has something distinctly private about it.
The official remembrance ceremonies are certainly dignified, but I think that now and then, the media needs to tone down its overall approach a bit, and be careful not to try and induce any kind of dumbed-down hysteria. This is an example of what I mean here. Comments from the county council such as "The person or persons that did it are just the scum of the earth […] They should be drummed out of Worthing, drummed out of the country" to me, oversimplify and beat a hysterical and hypocritical drum about an act of stupid, essentially ignorant youth vandalism. It’s an odd point I’m trying to make here, and I hope readers do not take me the wrong way on this. Of course I think that it is shameful and wrong of those brain-dead chavs to deface a war memorial. But it’s not the crime of the century compared to other news reports this week, (such as the vile yob who stabbed a young man to death on a train merely for looking at him the wrong way – a yob with a string of convictions behind him, who should have been, and in an earlier era WOULD have been behind bars) and indeed I think that it is the fault of our modern society on so many fronts (lack of school discipline, outlawing of parental discipline, the virtual castration of the police force) that produces these thugs who know that they can get away with such offences in the first place. What I’m trying to get at is, is this the Britain those soldiers died to preserve?
This is my central point – Britain today is sadly not the sort of society our forefathers fought to preserve during their time in fierce battle. As I remarked to a friend in the pub last night, if those soldiers had been able to look into the future and see the Great Britain they were fighting for, reduced to what it is now….I wonder if half of them would have said to themselves "S*d this, lads, this is not going to turn out to be a country worth fighting for. Let’s go home, our sacrifice will eventually be all for nothing".
Perhaps you may feel that today is not the most appropriate day for me to make such comments, best remember the dead today and leave the ills of modern Britain for another post. But personally I can’t separate the past from the present and leave it at that. Those soldiers did not give their lives for an annual remembrance day of pomp and ceremony – they gave their lives for the future – for us. Past and present are connected, they have a relationship in my mind. I don’t believe in ceremony purely for the sake of ceremony – it must keep its link with the here and now, otherwise it becomes nothing more than blind ritual.
Remembrance Day is especially sad and poignant to me, because "we" (and I admit I’m not quite sure what or whom I mean by "we" – politicians to an extent, civilians to an extent, it’s everything – the whole gradual breakdown of civil/religious/social order since the 1960’s) – "we" as a nation have defaced and dishonoured the sacrifice of those soldiers in a far deeper way than some thug defacing a stone memorial. Every scumbag sentenced to a mere six years for rape, every dangerous offender released early on the say-so of our marshmallow-brained judiciary, every paedophile let loose to live in the community, every juvenile offender rewarded with the pathetic, ineffectual "badge" of an ASBO, every former terrorist welcomed to become part of our Union’s government, and every judge or politician responsible for this state of affairs, is a grave affront to the memory of those who gave their lives for this country in decades past.
I feel grateful, for sure. Yet I also feel ashamed.