WWI Centenary

cremeegg

Frequent Poster
Am I alone in wondering why we in this state are commemorating the soldiers of WW1.

Every time I read how they suffered I always think that they inflicted equal suffering on others.

I also question why they joined up. There was never conscription in Ireland. Some no doubt needed the money, but poverty is not accepted as an excuse for killing in any other circumstance.

Some no doubt wanted to serve King and Country, which is fair enough for those who thought that way. But this state came into being precisely to deny that George was our king or Britain our country.

Many joined up no doubt simply because that was what other men were doing. The blood of those they killed is no doubt on their hands, but why they have any claim to our memory defeats me.

Many no doubt joined up for the adventure, I hope it turned out well for them, but that is not accepted as an excuse for killing in any other circumstance either.
 

dub_nerd

Frequent Poster
Am I alone in wondering why we in this state are commemorating the soldiers of WW1.
I saw at least three programmes on TV today about why Irish people are commemorating them. Are you actually curious about the reasons (in which case you don't seem to have gone to much trouble to find out from easily available sources ... but allow me to help) or was it just an excuse to trot out your own reasons why we shouldn't?

...why they have any claim to our memory defeats me.
The dead have no claim on anything. If you don't want to remember them, you don't have to. If other people want to remember them, that's their choice. It's a free country.
 

Purple

Frequent Poster
The old line that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it springs to mind.


We remember because we should. The Germans don’t feel they can commemorate in the same way because the shadow of the Second World War darkens their memory, which is unfortunate.


Wars are a fight between old men, usually rich old men, in which young men die. They are usually poor young men. Wars are a failure of diplomacy, a failure of reason, and are almost always unnecessary.


We remember those who died because we should, because the suffering and grief they left behind is not lessened by the futility of the cause they fought for or the pointlessness of their deaths.


There is no moral cause to hide behind, no flag of jingoism to cover the pointless savagery of the battles where millions perished, there is just the endless rows of white crosses.

There is no better argument against Nationalism than the First World War. That’s why we should remember.
 

Duke of Marmalade

Frequent Poster
cremeegg I think you are confusing "commemorating" with "glorifying". We commemorate the dead of the famine, but we don't glorify them. Unfortunately we do glorify the participants of 1916. And yes possibly there is an element of glorification in our neighbour's memory of its two victories against Germany. But this is a fast diminishing aspect as witness the attendance of the German President at the Queen's ceremony in London.

It was fascinating to see the putative participants of WW III standing together in commemoration in Paris. What they were being reminded of was "how in hell did do this to ourselves". Such reflections are of course no guarantee that it won't happen again. But that is why we remember.
 
Last edited:

elacsaplau

Frequent Poster
We remember because we should......
Agreed.

Nonetheless, lest we forget - every year whilst PM, Blair wore the poppy and did all the remembrance stuff. Didn't stop him - as per Chilcot - from relying on and presenting evidence that he knew to be dubious as justification for the IRAQ war. It seems some folk do, indeed, forget.
 

elacsaplau

Frequent Poster
Purple,

Yea but yourself! The origins of the poppy are completely immaterial to the point I was making.

[Thanks to Dub Nerd's superb "allow me to help", I can google probably just as well as yourself and seems even your pedantry is debatable!]
 

Purple

Frequent Poster
Purple,

Yea but yourself! The origins of the poppy are completely immaterial to the point I was making.
The IRA used our flag when they were blowing up children and old people in the UK. That doesn't mean we shouldn't also use it. Bush wore his little American flag. They don't own the symbols and as such when they debase them through their actions they are not debasing them for everyone else.
 

cremeegg

Frequent Poster
Are you actually curious about the reasons or was it just an excuse to trot out your own reasons why we shouldn't?
Something in between. I do not understand why anyone takes seriously the reasons usually advanced. I have addressed the three most common in my opening post. I thought perhaps the thoughtful people here on AAM might have some light to throw on the matter.

I tried your link, but disappointingly its just a smartarse little video about how to use google search.
 

cremeegg

Frequent Poster
Agreed.

Nonetheless, lest we forget - every year whilst PM, Blair wore the poppy and did all the remembrance stuff. Didn't stop him - as per Chilcot - from relying on and presenting evidence that he knew to be dubious as justification for the IRAQ war. It seems some folk do, indeed, forget.
The people who put on the poppy and "commemorate" are the very people who are likely to promote and join the next war.

Wether it is the likes of Blair at the top or the young men destined to die at the bottom.
 

Purple

Frequent Poster
Agreed. But not at all the point I was making. I think I'll leave it at that.
I thought I understood the point you were making (that people use symbols in order to muddy the waters and that they are often hypocrites). It seems I was wrong. Can you tell me what the point was you were making please?
 

michaelm

Frequent Poster
Many no doubt joined up for the adventure, I hope it turned out well for them, but that is not accepted as an excuse for killing in any other circumstance either.
A distant relative of mine enlisted, I believe, for adventure. Born in 1897 he was too young to be sent overseas (one needed to be over 19) but he falsified his age. It didn't work out for him as he froze to death during the Dardanelles Campaign.
 

dub_nerd

Frequent Poster
I tried your link, but disappointingly its just a smartarse little video about how to use google search.
I admit it was tongue in cheek but it's not just a video -- the Search button does actually work and many of the results go some way to addressing your questions. Did you look?

Something in between. I do not understand why anyone takes seriously the reasons usually advanced. I have addressed the three most common in my opening post. I thought perhaps the thoughtful people here on AAM might have some light to throw on the matter.
I can't see that you addressed any of the reasons normally advanced for the commemorations. You addressed four reasons why, in your view, people joined up -- poverty, duty, conformity, adventure. And you gave two reasons why, in your view, they should not be commemorated -- because they inflicted equal suffering on others, and because their reasons for joining up would not be justification for killing other people under normal circumstances.

A couple of obvious points could be made. War is not "normal circumstances". Regardless of the reasons for signing up, most people would acknowledge that the first world war was unexpectedly horrible for the participants. It was the first time various technologies had been employed en masse: machine guns, tanks, chemical weapons, submarines, super-heavy and long range artillery. In the face of this the use of conventional battlefield tactics like digging in, and "going over the top" resulted in tens of thousands being mowed down in individual daily skirmishes. Peter Jackson's film made for the centenary conveys some of the horrors in pictures and from individual accounts -- amputations for trench foot, men drowning in bomb craters, piles of corpses being eaten by rats and flies, shattered limbs and minds. Many who made it home were ignored, misunderstood, or subjected to outright discrimination.

Commemorations are communal recollections or reflections. It shouldn't need pointing out that the dead have no memories, so commemorations are an exercise of the living. They are an opportunity to consider the tragedy of war regardless of causes or motivations, and to resolve to avoid it at all costs except as a last resort. The dead serve as a focus for the remembrance, but in some ways this is to remind the living of the value of preserving current and future generations.
 

cremeegg

Frequent Poster
I can't see that you addressed any of the reasons normally advanced for the commemorations.
You will have to help me out here, what are these reasons. (other than the below)

They (commemorations) are an opportunity to consider the tragedy of war regardless of causes or motivations, and to resolve to avoid it at all costs except as a last resort.
No they are not. These commemorations are an excuse to dress up and play bad music. Consider what effect they have on children. They see the dead addressed as heroes.

If there were no solemn occasions, no laying of wreaths etc etc Tony Blair might have found it more difficult to get young men to kill for him in Iraq.

The dead of WW1 are not heroes, they are at best victims, at worst murderers.
 

Deiseblue

Frequent Poster
I know that my Grandfather who was from a Waterford Protestant family initially saw joining the British army as a career having enlisted circa 1911 .
I know that he always considered himself British and was proud to serve King and Country but I often wonder giving the privations he suffered and indeed caused others to suffer whether he would have enlisted in 1911 ?
He was undoubtedly a brave man who fought at Mons & Ypres before winning the Military Cross in Mesopotamia, he enlisted as a private was commissioned in the field & ended the war as a flight commander in the RFC .
I certainly raise a glass to him every armistice day .
 

cremeegg

Frequent Poster
I am glad to see that I am not alone.

The IT has an obituary today of a 95 year old anti-austerity campaigner and RAF veteran who "attracted attention when he wrote in 2013 how he would not wear a Remembrance poppy in future because he felt that the symbol was being used to promote present-day conflicts."

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/harry-leslie-smith-world-s-oldest-rebel-dies-aged-95-1.3713106

the Guardian has this too

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/nov/28/harry-leslie-smith-obituary
 
Top