I have to say I'm confused and in two minds (only two!?).
I watched the highlights from the Passchendaele ceremonies over the weekend and was genuinely moved. I'm not one to be moved generally by these things but I thought the dramatic light show across the buildings in the square was clever, professional and quite inspiring. It was both engaging and... I have to say it... entertaining. The whole thing was beautifully done and in so many ways it is absolutely right to honour the truly sacrificial numbers of lives lost in the battle called Passchendaele but also the other Ypre battles in a way that brings some kind of restorative beauty out of something worse than horror.
But that is also the argument perhaps to question such ways of commemorating the anniversaries that will come over the following year. We are making poetry and drama and, yes, entertainment, out of it and would it be something more honest to somehow to be less pleased with the commemorations and be reminded and indeed feel the real cost of conflict?
In some way that happened as individuals stories were told as relatives stood by graves yesterday morning. That gave some human insight, but at the same time I wonder how we might honour the anniversaries through a remembrance where we finally 'get' what violent conflict is like, the utter waste of life, the mammoth cost in numbers, the making of some terribly blind decisions as well as some truly heroic ones that makes us turn away from conflict as a means of resolving our relationship issues with each other.
I don't know, I really don’t, but the more the anniversaries arrive we need less moving remembrance and more remembrance that makes us change. Others will disagree. Let us discuss.