Monday, 10 November 2014

Remembrance Day commemorations

My article in this week's Cornish Guardian will be as follows:

It is my strong belief that everyone needs to fully understand the horror of war, and to know more about the tragic loss of millions of lives in the two World Wars and other subsequent conflicts.

I believe that we should welcome the wide-ranging array of exhibitions, events and television/radio programmes that have commemorated the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War.

And, as well as marking the bravery and sacrifice of those who served, there has also been a considerable exploration of the wider issues about the enormity of the conflict.

Like many others, I was particularly impressed by the display at the Tower of London, where 888,246 ceramic poppies were installed as an artwork.

Each poppy represented a British or Commonwealth death during the Great War and it was an important and truly poignant display.

I nonetheless feel that many people – myself included – do not have the capacity to comprehend the loss of 888,246 men and women between 1914 and 1918.

And I think we equally struggle to comprehend the magnitude of the overall losses of the First World War, in which ten million service personnel and some six million civilians died. Or indeed, the casualties in the Second World War, when over 50 million individuals lost their lives – the vast majority of them civilians.

The extent of suffering is truly terrifying, but each loss was also intensely personal.

Thousands of people attended recent Remembrance Day commemorations across Cornwall, and I was pleased to lay a wreath at my local war memorial in St Enoder Churchtown.

At this memorial, just like others across the whole of the country, the names that were read out were members of those communities - sons, husbands, brothers, workmates and friends – who left behind children, wives, parents and siblings.

And whether they focus on the big picture or the individual experience, it is essential that politicians and opinion formers, present and future, learn from past wars and do all in their power to prevent further conflicts around the globe.

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