A lot has been said and written about Remembrance of the Fallen in the last few weeks. Some of it has been moving but much has been trite, superficial and aimed more at glorifying the dead from conflicts (especially those from our own side) and the fighting itself than remembering that each death, be of a soldier or a civilian, friend or foe, left behind a family to grieve the loss.
War is obscene, and the death of anyone from it is a tragedy, and what is worse it rarely solve the problems it was originally fought for.
The First World War was not fought to democracy or freedom, it was mostly the result of the Great Powers at the time wanting to extend their spheres of influence and daring each other to step back from a fight. The Second World War was the result of unfair & punitive financial penalties imposed by the victors in WWI on the losers. Other wars across the world since, in Europe, the Middle East and Asia especially, also have their roots in the peace settlements that ended both World Wars. Millions of deaths because the rulers of European Nations in the early part of the 20th Century preferred bluster and military might rather than cooperation and constructive negotiations.
Since 1945, we here in Western Europe have had an unprecedented period of peaceful co-existence (thanks in no small part to the Council of Europe and the EU) where countries that have been enemies for centuries now are close allies with no need even for border guards to defend their common frontiers against each other. Slowly, far too slowly because there are still some counties with leaders who see sending their young people to fight & die as an acceptable policy option, slowly the peace we have enjoyed is extending to the rest of Europe and to other parts of the world
To me, this is the more fitting memorial to those who died in the two world wars than ceramic poppies, a world where wars become as much a part of our uncivilised past as bear baiting, slavery and feudalism.
We must never forget those who died in wars, lives wasted and thrown away; remember their often unwilling sacrifice and be willing to work to end the sacrifice others in more futile conflicts.