Wednesday, November 11, 2015

a reflection on Armistice Day

Today marks the 97th anniversary of the end of what was then called the Great War, also sometimes referred to as the war to end all wars. That it was not is reflected by the name it is more commonly known as now – the first World War.

I don't wish to spend much time this evening reflecting on the tragedy and futility of war. That is well known to us all. Wars are fought. People die either directly in the conflict, or indirectly as collateral damage. Combatants are wounded and return home crippled for life. Even those who do not die or are injured do not escape unscathed, for they will have seen things no one should ever have to see.

People sometimes speak about the glory of war. There is nothing glorious about the horror it involves. Men and women can fight with honour according to the rules of engagement, but glory is left to the side when it comes to the actual fighting and dying and killing. This is reflected, I think, in the well known reluctance of those who have been in combat to speak about their experiences. In fact, in all my years in the military I only recall one soldier speaking of his time in combat, and even that was of a single incident, and even then among other soldiers. None of the soldiers I knew, even special forces ones, were eager to speak of what they had seen and done.

And yet in this broken world of ours war remains if not a necessity then an awful inevitability. And as long as it is so, then we must honour those who put on a uniform to defend their nations, their way of life, their homes, their families. Many have died because of it; and even those who have not have suffered for it; and their scars are the scars of us all.

Let us now keep silence for some moments as we remember all those who have suffered because of war, no matter what form that suffering has taken.

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