Their war was meant to end all wars. Re­mem­ber them to­day but re­mem­ber that too

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - OPINION -

Well, this is a day to re­mem­ber our his­tory, a time to re­flect on all the lives lost 100 years ago and all those lost in con­flict since the end of the war meant to end all wars. There have been many an­niver­saries over the last four years mark­ing the start and the most ter­ri­ble bat­tles of the First World War and there will be more in the years ahead dur­ing the 80th an­niver­sary of the Sec­ond.

It is un­der­stand­able that some be­lieve it is all too much. That re­spect­ful re­flec­tion and re­mem­brance has some­times soured into a glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of war and a mis­placed nos­tal­gia. That choos­ing to wear a poppy as a small ges­ture of re­spect loses a lit­tle mean­ing when it be­comes al­most manda­tory, when no one, from news­read­ers to Strictly Come dancers, is al­lowed on our TV screens with­out one.

On oc­ca­sion, all Bri­tain’s cer­e­monies and wreath-lay­ing, all the con­certs and be­jew­elled pop­pies, can seem more about us than them, the or­di­nary men and women, who once an­swered the call to fight for their coun­try and made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice.

What, the scep­tics ask, has changed? The war to end all wars ended noth­ing. In­deed, just 20 years later, the world was ablaze again and other con­flicts have since claimed the lives of mil­lions more.

To­day, as Bri­tain re­mem­bers, bombs will fall and bul­lets will fly in coun­tries that may seem far from home but are closer than that. Some of those arms will have been made in Scot­land, some of those wars are sup­ported by our Prime Min­is­ter’s govern­ment.

In ad­di­tion, as we salute the fallen to­day, dark forces con­tinue to make the world as dan­ger­ous as it has ever been. Above the far-right, toxic na­tion­al­ists emerg­ing em­bold­ened across the Western world to the ji­hadists still in­tent on de­stroy­ing that world, low­er­ing clouds are form­ing.

Mean­while, in Eu­rope, Bri­tain has voted to leave the round table where lead­ers united to re­build a con­ti­nent rub­bled by war, where ar­gu­ments were set­tled with words not bombs and bul­lets.

Now, the talk is of new borders and bar­ri­ers while the worst and glibbest Brex­i­teers con­tinue to glory in wartime analo­gies, rel­ish­ing rhetoric of stoic de­fi­ance, du­plic­i­tous for­eign­ers, and plucky Blighty go­ing it alone. This year of all years, they would do bet­ter to muf­fle their shal­low ig­no­rance in a shroud of si­lence.

As we stand in re­mem­brance this morn­ing look­ing across our coun­try and around the world, it may seem that we have learned only one thing from all the wars waged, all the bat­tles fought and all the lives lost, and that is that we have learned noth­ing at all. The mil­lions of men and women, lost in the First World War and in ev­ery war since, did not die for that.

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