Remembrance & Veterans’ Day: Glorifying War?

poppiesHere on the second floor of BBC TV Centre, the floor-to-ceiling windows to my right look out over busy West London. At 11am today – the 11th day of the 11th month – the red London buses on Wood Lane below will all pull over.  Many people normally in a rush will stop in their tracks in the street. A couple of miles away, the Queen will lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

They’ll all stand silent for 2 minutes and remember the war dead – 91 years after the First World War officially ended.

But the one British man still alive who was actually there doesn’t want to remember.

108-year-old Claude Choules – who now lives in Australia – hasn’t been to commemorations since he left the navy. His daughter has told reporters “he didn’t think we should glorify war”. Traumatised by his experiences, he’s not spoken about them since 1954.

Ceremonies are happening in many countries including South Africa, Australia and France, where the German Chancellor has taken part for the first time. They call it Veterans’ Day in the United States: a national holiday.

And while Claude Choules won’t be getting involved, this mother of a dead US serviceman killed in 2001 thinks MORE should be done on November 11th. She remembers a time when, on this day, “business-as-usual felt disrespectful”.

Do these commemorations glorify war? Or should more, not less, be done to remember troops who have died?

14 Responses to “Remembrance & Veterans’ Day: Glorifying War?”

  1. 1 Bob in Queensland
    November 11, 2009 at 12:32

    I’ve always thought that Remembrance Day marks the horror of war, not the glory.

  2. 2 patti in cape coral
    November 11, 2009 at 13:50

    I actually head a report on NPR that a man was being mugged by four thieves at gunpoint today. When they looked through his wallet they saw his army identification card and they apologized and thanked him for his service and went on their way. At least among thieves, Veterans’ Day means something, or at least military service means something.

    I never thought of Veterans’ Day as glorifying war, just a time to remember the sacrifices made.

  3. 3 scmehta
    November 11, 2009 at 13:54

    “Remembrance and Veterans’ Day” is a great gesture and tribute to the sacrifices made by our valiant soldiers for the causes of justice and peace. As it is, in the present fast-paced times, most of the people either forget or don’t care to remember their own veterans/elders or the war-veterans; so, why deny them this small little mercy once a year. It’s one thing to bravely come face -to-face with the dangers in the war, and quite another to feel humanly anguished and remorseful after the war; for no civilized society, including the soldiers, can ever feel happy over the bloodshed and destruction in the war, but sometimes it becomes absolutely necessary to wage a war against the evil-minded attackers and senseless killers of the innocent people.

  4. November 11, 2009 at 15:21

    I think current soldiers should take pride in the conduct of those of their tribe who have gone before, and politicians should feel ashamed at the failures of those of their tribe who have gone before. The rest of us, I think, should be mindful of both sentiments.

    As it is, we say thank you, but we don’t say sorry. We take pride in those that go out to fight for us – and we genuinely are grateful – but we feel no shame in sending them. Our leaders stand head bowed in respect. Their heads should also be bowed in apology.

  5. 6 steve
    November 11, 2009 at 15:28

    I think any consideration war is “glory” was lost in 1914-1915 when trench warfare began.. Today is to honor the dead of WW1 on armistice day, and in the US, to honor US veterans, as they’ve done things that the vast majority of us will never experience, and cannot ever imagine.

  6. 7 Maxine
    November 11, 2009 at 15:44

    I am grateful to the soldiers/airmen/sailors who gave me the freedom from tyranny that I have today. Remembrance day is important “lest we forget”. Some things are worth fighting for -. It is a time to hope for a peaceful world and to remember their sacrifice.

  7. November 11, 2009 at 15:47

    I always look on rememberance/veterans day as a day to say a big thank you to the men and women who did not see the result of their labours or sacrifice.When you go home,tell them of us,and say,”For your tomorrow,we gave our to-day”.No glorification there,just a simple statement.

  8. 9 Tara Ballance
    November 11, 2009 at 15:58

    The job description of a soldier contains two duties that no other profession can claim:

    • May be called upon to kill.

    • May be called upon to die.

    Whatever the political motivations underlying any war, on Remembrance Day, the only focus should be on the soldiers who were and are called upon to perform those duties.

  9. 10 jens
    November 11, 2009 at 16:04

    Remembrance/veterans day is a reminder to all of us that while we live in a fairly free and open society, that these freedoms have been fought for and that many good men have died for these ideals. it is certainly not a glorification of war, but a day to remind us of the sacrifice of so many.

  10. November 11, 2009 at 17:59

    Remberance Day is a mark of respect to those who were killed in wars and especially those in the wars of 1914-1918. These were brave men and women who sacrificed their own lives for the sake of future world peace. The tragic stories recounted in ceremonies and church services in cities throughout the world are ample testimony of the horrows of war.

  11. 12 Ronald Almeida
    November 11, 2009 at 18:44

    It’s the two sides of the coin. I don’t believe commemoration for the sake of the people who gave their lives to protect their own can be seen as glorifying war, but the fact is it does.

  12. 13 worldwar1letters
    November 12, 2009 at 04:38

    Readers may also be interested in the writings home from the front of US Sgt. Sam Avery. Fascinating eyewitness history from the hot sands along the Rio Grande to the cold mud along the Meuse.

    This blog is an adventure long in the making for me in honor of my own family hero. Letters are posted on the same day they were written from the trenches 91 years ago.

    Today I found myself staring at my watch counting down the minutes to 1100 hrs. http://worldwar1letters.wordpress.com

  13. 14 Josiah Soap
    November 12, 2009 at 04:43

    It glorifying those that died so we may go about our normal lives. Think back to when you were in your early twenties (average age of soldiers). A person is just starting to experience life, a wonderous journey before them. Then to have it cut short in some far off place, or to be maimed for life. Then we go on without even a thought. This day glorifies the people who sacrificed so much. I can only hope to be a fraction of the type of person these brave men and women they were.

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