I always feel there is something cold and clinical about Remembrance Sunday (as well as Armistice Day).
We remember the sacrifice of the soldiers who fought and died in the wars. However, nowhere does it say anything about the civilians who died (I suppose that these days they would be considered as “collateral damage”).
Winston Churchill’s famous “We shall fight them…” speech has never struck me as just speaking about the military – it was about every single person who was alive at that time. Yet all the memorials to those who died in war only concentrate on the military.
Why am I slightly upset by this???
I suppose it all stems from my Mum’s attitude to British and US Second World War Veterans – when she saw one of those she immediately shook them by the hand and said “Thank you” to them.
Having been born in Rotterdam in October 1942, she might not have been old enough to remember the full scale of the occupation of The Netherlands but – trust me – she had enough relatives who did remember.
I think I have also written on here about my favourite “memorial” to some of those who died in the Second World War – the “Stepping Stones” you see outside some of the buildings in Rotterdam (and other cities) giving the names and a few other details of the people who were transported to their deaths at the Concentration Camps and Gas Chambers.
Yes – we need to remember those who have died serving their country (and liberating other countries). However, we also need to remember the “Forgotten Civilians” who also paid the greatest cost with their lives.
Part of me wonders what our attitude would be if the Second World War had happened in the current world of 24 hour news – with the gratuitous pictures of human suffering, death, destruction, and wilful damage of historical buildings and artefacts?
Nowadays we only have the stories from the survivors and veterans of the Second World War. As these people slowly dwindle to nothing I am afraid that we are going to lose the real stories from the Second World War.
We are already starting to forget the lessons of it.