I was very moved by the display of the 800,000 ceramic poppies at the Remembrance Service in London. To remember those who lost their lives, so that we may enjoy lives of relative freedom, is essential. Firstly, it reminds us to appreciate so many things that we take for granted. Secondly, I believe that as soon as we forget or its significance to us diminishes, it’s all very likely to happen again.
As a species, we aren’t too smart at learning from history!
Perhaps to a person of my generation it is very poignant because my childhood was at a time in history when there were survivors of both world wars. My own father suffered terribly. I know from my mother that he had nightmares at least into his late fifties – no talk of PTSD and appropriate treatment in those days! Just from the few things he would talk about (only on rare occasions after a drink) I was horrified by man’s brutality to his fellow man.
The survivor of World War 1 I remember was old Mr Russell. He lived in the small village where I lived between the ages of 5 and 12. He was a frighteningly disturbed man who, when out and about, could be heard shouting his head off, obviously tormented by his experiences in the trenches. It was a heartbreaking thing to witness.
As an adult, I was to learn that in the early part of this conflict, ‘Shell Shock’ as it was termed, was merely considered as cowardice and victims were shot! Near Southampton (UK) there is a museum in what was the first hospital in Britain to recognise this as an illness and attempt to treat it.
These photographs are of a book I have recently reread. A Month In The Country by J.L. Carr. It is an English classic. The tale is of a survivor of World War 1, who, though damaged, tries to return to his life as an art restorer. A very tender and moving work.
So yes, we must remember the dead, but also the many more who still paid a very, very high price. When shall I remember them best? Every time I am able to journey where I wish and (within reason and with due courtesy) photograph what I see, in a country free of tyranny………………
TO THEM ALL – THANK YOU