12/11/2010

Day of remembering

I asked my daughter whether she'd done anything at school on 11 November. She looked at me in that way she's wont to now she's a pre-teen, full of disdain and shock: 'No, she said. You're wrong. It was 10 November we celebrated'.
And of course 10 November is an important day in Turkey - it marks the death of the first leader of the Turkish Republic, Ataturk. But I'd thought that in a French school they'd at least mention Remembrance Day. So I told her, briefly that it was the date of the Armistice signed at the end of WW1, my husband added something about veterans and poppies, and that was it.

Then I read Julie's post at the Mom Slant, in which she gets a little annoyed with  Penelope Trunk's claims that there shouldn't be a Veterans Day.

I like Julie and I'm not terribly impressed by Penelope Trunk. Julie was in the US army, as was her husband, so she's got a thought or two on the question of whether Veterans should be remembered.

Now my one clear thought about the army is this: I don' t like it. At all. Get rid of it, please. I get a sick feeling whenever I see a person carrying a gun with a purpose other than killing rabbits (or other edible animals - for some reason hunting does not bother me in the slightest, and I like a good rabbit stew).

I've called myself an anti-militarist in the past. Not a pacifist - although, to my ears, that sounds more attractive - because I'm simply never sure  what to say if someone asks me whether I think I would fight back if I were under attack, or if someone else was under attack.

So I know, it's not a terribly consistent position to find oneself in - unless you believe rather implausibly that if there were no armies, there would be no wars...
But there you go, that's how I feel about things.

Now that's a very different position from one that denies that veterans are worthy of rememberance.

I'm happy to remember that a lot of people have died to deliver Europe from the Nazis. I'm happy to remember that in any war, many young men and women go through incredible hardships and give up their lives because they want to protect us, to protect justice, and they are told that this is the right way to do so. I am happy to remember that a huge number of people died in the first world war because they were sent there by superiors who valued the lives of soldier very little indeed.

So when I do remember, it's never with pride, sometimes with gratitude, but more often with sadness that lives should have been wasted and gambled by men playing little soldiers from the comfort of their armchair.

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3 comments:

Jean said...

very well articulated XXX

@jencull (jen) said...

Yep, the sadness that it ever came to that in the first place is how I feel on those kind of days! Jen

Sandrine said...

Glad you too understand!

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