Friday, 31 July 2009

Military Pomp or non-violent protest

John Lennon wanted to 'give peace a chance' and is famous for staying in bed as a non-violent protest against the Vietnam war. He came eighth in a BBC poll of 100 greatest Britons in 2002 so he was fairly influential. Perhaps even more famous for non-violent protest is Gandhi. There are very many famous lovers of peace. When it comes to remembrance I prefer to remember peace lovers rather than famous soldiers, but there has been a lot of recent media time given to the glories of war.

Henry Allingham and Harry Patch have both died and they were our last living links to World War I. Henry was 113 and his funeral was significant for its pomp and circumstance. I can't help thinking that all the praises, all the medals, all the pomp and all the circumstance have been given simply because these soldiers have lived a long time. It is nothing to do with them as people and if it is nothing to do with them then what is it for? My answer is that there are many who want to glorify war. This may satisfy our soldiers and their families. It gives our soldiers who are fighting wars today some support in what must be a terrible ordeal.

However my preferences are for giving peace a chance. The Pogues have a song called 'And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda' which contains a section about a military parade as well as the lyrics 'and the young people ask me, "what are they marching for?" And I ask myself the same question'. I can understand the heroism of war. I see how soldiers can be brave and proud of their actions. I can't help thinking that all these positive values are overshadowed by the political failures that got them into war but this doesn't generally get mentioned. My recent blogs have looked at war in Afghanistan and Iraq but wars everywhere are signs of failure. War is not the best way to resolve conflict and this makes me have reservations about military pomp.

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