Thursday, July 30, 2009
The funeral today of Henry Allingham, and the upcoming funeral of Harry Patch, mark the point where we have no more witnesses to the obscene slaughters of the first part of the Great European Civil War of 1914-1990
That was my grandparents generation. My dad (already dead) a veteran of the 1939-1945 period of hot combat, could at the end of his life still be aroused to blind fury by accounts of what happened to his parents generation. I recall him talking about Passchendale and declaring ‘we should have shot our own generals there not the Germans’.
I doubt though whether he was aware of the line from the Internationale that the authorities would know
bientôt que nos balles
Sont pour nos propres généraux
Now it is up to us, my generation which will soon pass as well, and those younger, to do a better and more peaceful job of dealing with the serious idiocies of war and what it does to the people who we may still send out to fight.
Starting with making sure that the Iraq war Enquiry is a servant to truth not political sensibilities, let the roof fall where it may.
And that we do not fall into the ‘they must not have died in vain’ trap in Afghanistan, pushing in more troops regardless of any realistic military or political objectives, or national interests .
And that we do not let the ramshackle instruments of co-operation that we have in the European Union get sabotaged by nostalgics for the hatreds of the great Civil War.