Jenkins, Simon: No more remembrance days – let’s consign the 20th century to history

Simon Jenkins

No more remembrance days – let’s consign the 20th century to history‘, The Guardian, 9 November 2017

Other Honest History material on Remembrance Day 99 is here and linked therefrom.

Simon Jenkins’ piece was shared 12 000 times on Facebook, attracted 1400 comments, and provoked more than 100 letters. Our quick check suggested views ranged widely.

This weekend’s memorial to “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” has become a synthetic festival whose time has passed [argues Jenkins]. The wars of the 20th century are beyond the experience of the overwhelming majority of Britons. The composite of the Last Post, “lest we forget” and Oh! What a Lovely War is impregnated with enmity, atonement, forgiveness and self-congratulation. It has been reduced to the compulsory “corporate poppy”.

We really ought to get over it. Next year we should draw down the curtain and have a Forgetting Day, a Move On Day, a Fresh Start Day …

There is no collective grief that can reasonably be shared. Remembrance Day has become another charity event, a military parade, a validation of war by embracing its horrors in religiosity …

Remembering is easy. Forgetting is hard – in personal relationships as in a nation’s collective response to the world around it. The task is not to ignore some past event but to view it in proportion, to find some compromise between present and past.

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