Remember the Fallen and the price of war

Columnists
Columnists

On Sunday we are asked to remember members of the forces who died in the line of duty and, with next August marking the centenary of WWI, there is a particular poignancy to this year.

Between 1914 and 1918 over 70m men went to war, 10m of whom did not return, with many millions more wounded in action.

Such a scale is hard to grasp and it’s little wonder that the memorial day causes such complex feelings.

For many, the idea of glory in war is difficult and yet ‘The Glorious Dead’ is engraved on the Cenotaph.

On Sunday we are asked to remember and not to celebrate, and we should remember honestly.

We should remember that whether we agree with a conflict or not, as a country we ask our young men and women to put themselves at the gravest risk and serve on our behalf.

It is not only those who make the ultimate sacrifice but all who bear the scars of war, both seen and unseen, who we need to remember.

We should remember that the casualties of war are rarely confined to the military and that men, women and children, from the Blitz to the streets of Kabul have had their lives cut short by conflict. They too should not be forgotten.

We should remember that the value of a life isn’t defined by a country’s borders.

From the 1.5m Indian soldiers who fought for the British in WWI to the Ghurkhas and allies who serve alongside UK troops today, their lives also count.

Col Tim Collins, the day before entering Iraq, said to his troops that: “If there are casualties of war then remember that when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day”.

No matter what uniform a man wears, no matter the cause of the conflict, all lives should be remembered in considering the full cost of war.

On Sunday we are asked to remember but in the weeks which follow we should not forget the consequences of conflicts and the real value of human life.