I worked on a post over the weekend that I published early this morning, on the subject of Remembrance Day – or rather, as I am helpfully reminded by the media, on the subject of the anniversary of the armistice.
Don’t get me wrong – for someone to put themselves in the firing line, I’m grateful for that. I don’t think that saying thank you glorifies war at all.
But, you see, it goes further than that. I can’t separate that thanks from how we treat the people who come home. I’m more interested in actions than words. When the state condemns somebody to using food banks, even to homelessness, when the Poppy Appeal is a clear money-making exercise to help veterans financially, because they can’t get by on their own, does it really offer any solace when people then say, thank you for your service, one day of the year? Okay, let’s be charitable to the state here. Maybe these people ended up on the streets through their own stupid fault? Does that excuse how troops were ill-equipped when the state sent them into battle? As happened to British troops as recently as Iraq?
Come to that, many people contribute to the greater good, even when they don’t pick up a weapon. Doctors, nurses, teachers – even somebody who just pays their taxes in order to allow the state to function from day to day – they all do their bit to keep the cogs running smoothly. So there is more than one way of serving.
And I must be thankful for how the media has developed over the years. While a hundred years ago, we might not have had an adequate view of world events, or of the politicians behind them, now there is no such excuse! If Trump called the USA to arms, say, how many would follow him? There is a reason that armed forces are now professional, rather than conscripted – because people would refuse to take part! And he can only lock up so many people… On that subject, would a serviceman be making the sacrifice for me, or for Donald J. Trump? US Iraq veterans, were they fighting for the good old star-spangled banner, or for Halliburton?
So I think that people have sufficient information now to decide for themselves whether their involvement improves the situation or not. We have to do a lot of separation of wheat and chaff, but we’re in a better position than we were years ago.
I must admit I sit here in a kind-of twilight zone, on the one hand being grateful for the sacrifice, yet on the other that sacrifice has got to mean something – there has to be a lesson there somewhere. Like what can happen when diplomacy is allowed to fail. I wonder how many politicians feel likewise? I wonder what they would say Remembrance Day is all about?