Why Today We Must Remember to Remember
Associate Editor LOTTIE UNWIN bemoans the lack of respect shown today for the fallen.
I was a fully-fledged member of my school CCF for three years. I signed up because I wanted to meet older boys who looked good in combats.
Every year in the middle of November the starch spray would come out of the polish box under the sink and the kitchen would steam up with smell of singed wool and the stench of hair spray as I pulled my locks into a hairnet. We would march through the area and stand to attention outside the chapel, two minutes of silence swiftly followed. This morning, there was none of the same sense of tradition; today is Remembrance Day, but the odds are you don’t know it.
The Royal British Legion (RBL) explains that ‘more than 12,000 British Servicemen and women have been killed or injured on active service since 1945’. Continuing with: ‘If we are to maintain our peace and freedom, we must always remember’. But will two minutes once a year mean we remember? Will remembering mean a better world?
The answer to both questions is not necessarily yes. Nevertheless, two minutes of silence is the very least we can do to show some respect for the too easily forgotten horrors of war.
The Saturdays played in London’s Trafalgar Square and Swansea’s Castle Square after the RBL ‘Silence in the Square’. I cringed inwardly; it is hard to see a direct link between the British soldiers now dead, and ‘Chasing Lights’. It is also hard to see a direct link between the fallen and the crystal-encrusted poppies that adorned their bouncing breasts. Ryan Kisiel’s nauseating piece from the Daily Mail states, “if you feel that paper and plastic is a little bit last year, there is plenty of scope to update your poppy before Remembrance Day,” in his article commemorating the launch of the £84.99 jewel encrusted brooch from designer Kleshna. Apparently the money raised from the designer poppy contributes to the fund for the British war veterans, although I’m not sure whether this legitimises such a bling brigade, which can only serve to undermine the solemnity of such an occasion. It’s not the money that matters. Instead, next year, all that I ask of you, the student, is that you put down your pen, wherever you are.
The Saturdays model the latest trend.
The footage of last year’s RBL Ceremony inadvertently explains how for our generation, once our school days are over, apparently so are our days of paying respect. One minute in, presenter Ben Shepherd, famous for leaving his stamp on The Xtra Factor after a fall out with Simon Cowell, remarks to RBL chief Stewart Gendall that “it must be wonderful for him to see… so many young people” there, gesturing vaguely to the school kids “at the back”. As the camera pans the faces on screen are mostly elderly.
There are approximately 400 undergraduates in Homerton, yet perhaps 20 attended the service this morning. I can say with confidence and an intimate knowledge of the buttery that the rest were not all at lectures. Instead, I would hazard a rather loaded guess that the others forgot, or were busy sleeping off hangovers, writing an essay or trying to work out if it really was still raining outside. And, to all those people, I find it difficult to express in words, not fists banged on tables, how warped their priorities are.
Jenna Corderoy, a third year Law Student at King’s College explained that the service held in the Law Faculty “was nice” as “students and staff, who wished to observe the two minute silence, could congregate in the reception to take a moment to reflect.” But not all students had such a chance. David Douglas-Pennant, a third year History of Art student at Emma was horrified to find his lecturer made no concession to the event. “Having specifically arrived before 11, presuming a silence would be held, I was outraged when the lecturer dove straight into boring us senseless. I ignored him for an hour. I look forward to bombing his paper.”
For those of you were on Facebook at 11.00 this morning, we must remember to remember, because if we don’t, the generation after us won’t. We will be the adults who are going to look after our big wide world and with 111 reported deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan alone this year, I for one want it to be a world of respect, not one where we are too busy to stop and think.