Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance hi-jacked

Every year I end up writing something about Remembrance. And looking back at previous posts it seems that every year I become increasingly ambivalent about poppy-wearing. Because recently the Remembrance campaign has become more and more jingoistic.

I was listening to Radio 4 on Sunday morning to a plummy vicar who talked about his father having flown 'Lancaarster' bombers in WW2 and then went on to talk about how angry he was at people (like me) who criticise the flag-waiving aspects of  Remembrance. This was then followed immediately by the massed bands at the cenotaph striking up 'Rule Britannia'. Rule-fucking-Britannia. If every there was a less appropriate tune to open a ceremony that supposedly marks the suffering and sacrifice of two generations in the World Wars. 

And I say two World Wars because that is what Remembrance is about - as I have said before. 

Not because killed and injured servicemen in other conflicts are not important but because these global  conflicts involving citizen-armies and civilian populations is qualitatively different from the Falklands, the Gulf Wars or Afghanistan. And yet much of this year's commemorations focused on scenes from Camp Bastion, and on casualties from recent conflicts.  Needless to say the same coverage did not feature  the scandalous treatment of  servicemen from these conflicts - particularly  how ATOS is now making them jumping through hoops to limit their disability benefits for example. 

Remembrance is not the same as 'Help For Heroes'. It is a time for reflection about the broader nature of war - the big questions and the awkward questions that go to the very heart of everything that is wrong with the world. No wonder these are swept under the carpet whilst the band strikes up a stirring tune.

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