According to the data in World War 1 an estimated 10 million military and 7 million civilians died with 21 million wounded and 7.7 million missing or imprisoned. During World War 2 over 60-80 million people died. Not only were there millions of death but for each war, but there are records of genocide being committed on particular groups of people. For the first world war it was the genocide of the Armenians and for world war 2 it was the Jews and other minority groups by the Germans. In all of that data is the question; was it worth it in the end?
On Sunday I sat and listened to the sermon and one concept stood out to me:
Freedom is not free, someone must pay the price in order for us to enjoy it!
Armistice Day a.k.a Remembrance Day, commemorates the armistice signed to end the first world war at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. On this day a two minutes silence is held to remember those who have died in wars. Two minutes to remember what is now easily billions of people all over the world, killed for political and ideological beliefs.
Many of us cannot imagine being in the situation of being constantly facing death and uncertainty for a prolonged period of time, much less years at a time and live to tell the tale. I recently read an article by David Lammy [How Britain Dishonoured its African World War Dead] that sought to put closer to the forefront of W.W.1 narratives, African soldiers who served Britain in the first world war but who had been “written out of the story”. What is heartbreaking is the reality that the records never tell the true death tolls; they never allow many who died to be remembered. Many of those soldiers were never buried with the dignity that their service demanded and in his article, Lammy relates how dead soldiers had been left without the dignity of a grave, much less their names on a tombstone. However, such is the nature of war, along with the bolstering of pride is the reality of many many more left behind, their stories never finding itself on the pages of history, their names are now like them, dust blown away by the winds of time.
There have been many wars in the history of the world. There have been the need to defend, protect and take possession or repossession. However, what we sometimes forget are the real sacrifices that many made so that from war we could enjoy peace today. Many will argue that war eventually leads to a more peaceful and productive society -depends on who you ask, surely not those who have to live through it. But consider that the wars fought in ancient time cannot compare to the devastation of wars that have weapons that can cause mass destruction around the world in a short amount of time today. Peace is dangerous to those who do not benefit from it and we need to consider who do not.
Guernica by Pablo Picasso 1937 shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace.
And so we return to the simple case of wars.They continue today, and many of us are removed from them and therefore cannot imagine the devastation of such events.What is a fact is that war is something ever present and therefore we will always have the need to remember those who die because of them. As we remember, let us acknowledge that some will never have their stories told and their final resting place marked. Let us remember all the nameless and faceless who got no credit and who have died to make the dreams of others a possibility. Let us also remember that violence and misery are present companions for many around the world in 2019, where desolation never left and where war is still a reality and peace a dream. But most of all let us never forget the pity of war [Wilfred Owen] not just for some but all who have experienced wars, especially those in far flung places.