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Thread: The cult of remembrance

  1. #16
    Senior Member Ihatecamping's Avatar
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    The time taken to polish shoes or iron a necker is in itself an act of remembrance. You put yourself through a little inconvenience, in memory of people who sacrificed more than we ever have.
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  3. #17
    Senior Member Rikki01's Avatar
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    I think the op is a little confused. Yes there is one upmanship, which annoys me but this is not reflected in turning up to Parade and remember in clean shoes. I find the constant effort to make more and more extravagant poppies one upmanship.

    Turning up for this sort of day completely demands a little extra effort be made. As adults we do not attend restaurants and weddings looking like we just got out of bed and I would like to think parents do the same for their children - making sure they are appropriately dressed for an occasion.

    To book a camp on this weekend I think is a little sad. The Scout Association have been involved in this day for as long as it has been going on and as it is only ONE DAY you would think the camp could have took place on the other 51 weekends in the year.


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    Senior Member Ihatecamping's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattR View Post
    It's an odd thing. I look at the ad "wear your poppy with pride" above the ad for Gordon's on sale and something is lost. To paraphrase an old saying, you can tell people what to think but they might not. You can convey information but not wisdom.

    I never cared too much about WWI in school and we never talked about WWII. Given that Vietnam had just ended we didn't talk about that either. But what hit me like a ton of bricks was walking through the US cemetery above Omaha Beach and looking at the grave stones when I was about 16. I did the math and realized that quite a number of these souls were lost at an age just a few years older than I was. No pictures or history books or ribbons or parades or speeches or movies could have done what that walk did for me. All of a sudden all the other numbers meant something, not to mention all my relatives I never met.

    Thumbs up to those that try and convey what happened with a simple things like discussions. Something tells me that's what the original point of the poppies was. I don't think anyone should feel guilty about it. You do your best and move on.
    I think that the meaning of Remembrance has changed. When you come over here in May, go to any village. Near the centre, or perhaps in the church, will be a War Memorial, set up after the Great War. On it will be a long list of names of people who died; probably about 5-10% of the total of male inhabitants. Everyone knew someone who'd died, and almost all of a certain age had seen the horror for themselves. I met veterans of Ypres and the Somme, who still would nod to each other then say nothing more about it. I met maiden aunts who would never find a husband, because so many men had been killed. The US lost 60,000 men killed in Vietnam, over 30 years; the British Empire lost 60,000 killed and wounded in one day on the 1st July 1916, and a million dead over the course of the Great War. Building monuments and memorial halls was a collective act, a promise to friends and neighbours that they would be remembered.

    The Darwinism of war has left our continent much weaker than I had realised, even twenty years ago. We lost so many of our brightest, best and bravest, and we now sit in the headlights, fearful of the future and lacking confidence in our abilities. We have gone from a position where we fight costly wars for good reasons, to one where war in itself is so terrible it must never be allowed to happen, regardless of the consequences.

    Would the world have been much worse if the Kaiser had won in 1914? Not for the Jews, probably not for Britain. A defeat for Britain and France in 1918 would have been pretty bad, though. This makes it hard to explain the purpose of the Great War to any young people. Was it worth fighting Hitler? Of course. How about Korea? Well, yeah. The Falklands and Kuwait? Sure. Afghanistan? I think so. Iraq? Well, we were lied to, but that doesn't diminish the sacrifices made by the people who were there.

    The collective memory of the wars is fading. Now the WWII veterans are older than the WWI veterans I met, and the time from now to the Falklands War is longer than the time from my schooldays to D-Day. Without personal connections it's harder to understand why we do these acts of remembrance. It's no longer fashionable to have pride in our country, and we give away our freedoms for fear of causing offence. The emotions and ideas behind Remembrance have become much more complex, and everyone brings their own meaning to it.

    People who think or say that it is a glorification of war are either wilfully trying to not understand, or have a political motive for saying it. That is the one thing it has never been.
    Last edited by Ihatecamping; 14-11-2017 at 12:04 PM.
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  7. #19
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ihatecamping View Post
    The collective memory of the wars is fading. Now the WWII veterans are older than the WWI veterans I met, and the time from now to the Falklands War is longer than the time from my schooldays to D-Day. Without personal connections it's harder to understand why we do these acts of remembrance. It's no longer fashionable to have pride in our country, and we give away our freedoms for fear of causing offence. The emotions and ideas behind Remembrance have become much more complex, and everyone brings their own meaning to it.
    I almost agree with you in all of the above. As time passes, the actions increasingly become part of the past - how long before they start excavating the burial grounds at Waterloo.. in the interests of archaeology? Sure, as the old men pass, so too does our direct link. It may become harder, it may not. I think that there are a great many people alive today in the UK who had absolutely no connection with anyone who fought in either of the World Wars. When we went to Flanders for the first time with Scouts, out of 30, only three had any family connections with anyone who fought in WW1.

    However, nonetheless, when faced with the reality, the rows and rows of headstones, the lists and lists of the missing,the sight of a seven man bomber crew, from seven nations lying side by side - They understand. They are stunned.
    When they visit Sanctuary Wood and view that absurd collection of battlefield finds, when they view the uncensored photographs, when they see the damage - They understand. They are stunned.
    When they walk around the concentration camp, and they get that smell (imagined or real), when they see the ovens - They understand. They are stunned.

    Remembrance has got absolutely nothing to do with pride in one's country, it is pride in one's country that led so many to the slaughter in the first place. I stood in the cold on Sunday, I was pleased that we had young people coming along and taking art, but I was detached from many of the words spoken, and knowing that so many died because of what was an overblown family dispute, I could not bring myself to join in with the National Anthem. Remembrance is a personal thing, but we do it communally. But it should have nothing to do with pride in our country.
    Ewan Scott

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    I had strange feelings on Sunday. The sight of so many young people dressed in military-style uniform (sea cadets, police cadets, RN sea scouts etc) was impressive but also unsettling. Perhaps it reminded me too much of the young men keen to enlist in 1914/15, unaware of the horror that awaited them. But it's not the young men I think of most on remembrance day. My great grandfather was 37 when he was killed, leaving behind a widow with three young children. I don't know whether he volunteered, but I suspect he was forced to join up when conscription was extended to married men in May 2016. He was mobilised to France August 1916 and was killed three months later. My grandfather never new his father, so I've no idea what sort of man he was. Would he have appreciated the smart turnout at remembrance day, or been appalled at the symbols of the militarism that wrenched him from his young family? I cannot say.

    For me, remembrance is deeply personal, and the best we can do is encourage this reflection in our young people. Whether a public parade, or a more private act of reflection on a camp is more effective, I have no idea. And I certainly wouldn't criticise either.

    I don't really have much to add to this discussion. But since it seemed to be becoming increasingly polarised, I just wanted to add that there are aspects of recent remembrance days which I do find disturbing. But perhaps the whole point of remembrance day is that we are disturbed and unsettled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rikki01 View Post
    I think the op is a little confused. Yes there is one upmanship, which annoys me but this is not reflected in turning up to Parade and remember in clean shoes. I find the constant effort to make more and more extravagant poppies one upmanship.

    Turning up for this sort of day completely demands a little extra effort be made. As adults we do not attend restaurants and weddings looking like we just got out of bed and I would like to think parents do the same for their children - making sure they are appropriately dressed for an occasion.

    To book a camp on this weekend I think is a little sad. The Scout Association have been involved in this day for as long as it has been going on and as it is only ONE DAY you would think the camp could have took place on the other 51 weekends in the year.


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    I was in agreement until you mentioned the camp.

    I have in the past organised camps on remembrance weekend. This was before being involved in a group that played an active part in the community at remembrance. On each of those camps we held a "Scouts Own" at 11.00, incorporating a 2 minutes silence. Once in a field in Somerset. Once stood on the deck of a WWII fireboat in Bristol Harbourside (timed using the gun salute from the main remembrance ceremony at the Bristol Cenotaph)

    I dont think anyone could say we didnt show our respects on those occasions... or that it was any better or worse than going to the local church for the event.
    Dan Spencer

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    Senior Member BREWBOY's Avatar
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    I think that there are a great many people alive today in the UK who had absolutely no connection with anyone who fought in either of the World Wars. When we went to Flanders for the first time with Scouts, out of 30, only three had any family connections with anyone who fought in WW1.

    I think thats absolutely not true,I would say we all have connections with someone who fought in the world wars they have either been forgotten or took their memories to the grave,it only takes one generation not to pass on this information for it to be lost forever.
    We have researched through our family tree my side has 6 members my wifes 4 members who fought.Don't forget its much easier to research dead relatives than those who came home.

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    Senior Member Ihatecamping's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BREWBOY View Post
    I think thats absolutely not true,I would say we all have connections with someone who fought in the world wars they have either been forgotten or took their memories to the grave,it only takes one generation not to pass on this information for it to be lost forever.
    We have researched through our family tree my side has 6 members my wifes 4 members who fought.Don't forget its much easier to research dead relatives than those who came home.
    No, it is true. In London, 36% of people are foreign-born. In the UK as a whole it's about 13%; one in eight. These are people whose families weren't here at the time of the Falklands War, let alone the Great War. The largest foreign-born groups are the Indians, the Poles, the Pakistanis, the Irish and the Germans. Add in the Turks, the French and the other Eastern Europeans, and one man's vibrant mix of cultures is reason for someone else to look at a British tradition and shrug their shoulders.

    You can say that their relatives may have fought in the world wars, on one side or the other, but in many cases their family's connection to the British Act of Remembrance is tenuous.
    Last edited by Ihatecamping; 14-11-2017 at 02:56 PM.
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    Senior Member BREWBOY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ihatecamping View Post
    No, it is true. In London, 36% of people are foreign-born. In the UK as a whole it's about 13%; one in eight. These are people whose families weren't here at the time of the Korean War, let alone the Great War. The largest foreign-born groups are the Indians, the Poles, the Pakistanis, the Irish and the Germans. Add in the Turks, the French and the other Eastern Europeans, and one man's vibrant mix of cultures is reason for someone else to look at a British tradition and shrug their shoulders.

    You can say that their relatives may have fought in the world wars, on one side or the other, but in many cases their family's connection to the British Act of Remembrance is tenuous.
    So you say 1 in 8 people in the uk are foreign born,that leaves a wopping 87% of British people who do have a connection to the 1st or 2nd war,be it Fathers,uncles,grandfathers etc.

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    Senior Member recneps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BREWBOY View Post
    So you say 1 in 8 people in the uk are foreign born,that leaves a wopping 87% of British people who do have a connection to the 1st or 2nd war,be it Fathers,uncles,grandfathers etc.
    Not to forget either that a huge number of people from foreign countries were also involved in one or other of the world wars, or have been involved in other wars over the years.
    Dan Spencer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ihatecamping View Post
    ...the time from now to the Falklands War is longer than the time from my schooldays to D-Day.
    Perhaps (and I in my view hopefully) that will lead to greater recognition of those who died in Malaya, Korea, Suez. Ireland and all of the other scenes of conflict that happened between the two events.

    Whether they were called an "Emergency", a "Crisis", "Troubles" or some other euphemism, people still died.

    The act of Remembrance in which we participated on Sunday mentioned nothing about the country; it focussed on the deaths and sacrifice, and the "ordinariness" (at least when they left home) of those who were wounded or died.
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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BREWBOY View Post
    I think thats absolutely not true,I would say we all have connections with someone who fought in the world wars they have either been forgotten or took their memories to the grave,it only takes one generation not to pass on this information for it to be lost forever.
    We have researched through our family tree my side has 6 members my wifes 4 members who fought.Don't forget its much easier to research dead relatives than those who came home.
    I am afraid that it is true. There were some communities and families that were badly impacted, but there were those who took no part. On my father's side, no-one took part in any conflict since the Battle of New Orleans, until my father did National Service in Korea. On my mother's side she lost two Uncles on the Somme, and a third later died of his wounds.

    However, if you ask many young people today, and they bother to ask, few will be able to report that they had connections to WW1. When only three out of 30 came back with connections, I thought that they were being lazy and not bothering to ask, but when I spoke to parents, they all said that their familiy had no-one who served in WW1 or WW2.
    Ewan Scott

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    Keith at 2M Keith at 2M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    However, if you ask many young people today, and they bother to ask, few will be able to report that they had connections to WW1. When only three out of 30 came back with connections, I thought that they were being lazy and not bothering to ask, but when I spoke to parents, they all said that their familiy had no-one who served in WW1 or WW2.
    I suppose this makes sense as many of those who died in WWI were too young to have families of their own so most living relatives will only be looking at very distant great-great uncles and grandfathers. I'm surprised however, given the proliferation of ancestory websites that these distant relatives don't show up on family trees going back 100+ years.

    As far as the foreign connections go, I grew up in West London where the Polish community settled after WWII. Their pilots flew out of Northolt Aerodrome - they most certainly suffered losses and one of the roundabouts on the A40 is known as the Polish War Memorial. There were sacrifices made by many nations and on both sides. My opinion is that we owe it to them to remind today's young people of the consequences of war & hatred and let them draw their own conclusions. If years down the line they decide we don't need an act of Remembrance anymore that will be their choice but we will hopefully have done our duty by giving them the options to consider.
    The Roman Empire did not become great by holding meetings. It did so by killing everyone that opposed their point of view.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rikki01 View Post
    I think the op is a little confused. Yes there is one upmanship, which annoys me but this is not reflected in turning up to Parade and remember in clean shoes. I find the constant effort to make more and more extravagant poppies one upmanship.

    Turning up for this sort of day completely demands a little extra effort be made. As adults we do not attend restaurants and weddings looking like we just got out of bed and I would like to think parents do the same for their children - making sure they are appropriately dressed for an occasion.

    To book a camp on this weekend I think is a little sad. The Scout Association have been involved in this day for as long as it has been going on and as it is only ONE DAY you would think the camp could have took place on the other 51 weekends in the year.


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    I think I need to clarify. This will be a short post as I am having a rather busy day.

    The issue is not cleaning shoes. If you are at a formal occasion then an ironed shirt and clean shoes are pa for the course. The issue is the impression given that the one upmanship of being seen to be somewhere and have the biggest showiest turnout is more important to some people than the event itself.

    As for not having a camp that weekend I totally disagree. Not even going to debate that one.

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  22. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    I am afraid that it is true. There were some communities and families that were badly impacted, but there were those who took no part. On my father's side, no-one took part in any conflict since the Battle of New Orleans, until my father did National Service in Korea. On my mother's side she lost two Uncles on the Somme, and a third later died of his wounds.

    However, if you ask many young people today, and they bother to ask, few will be able to report that they had connections to WW1. When only three out of 30 came back with connections, I thought that they were being lazy and not bothering to ask, but when I spoke to parents, they all said that their familiy had no-one who served in WW1 or WW2.
    I think its more that the information has been lost or forgotten,maybe some families slipped through but not many young men stayed at home. 3 out of 30 is 10% I'm sure more than 10% of familes were effected by war

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