It’s that day again. In other years I have posted about the men I knew who were in the world wars and rejected the war-time ethos – the fighter pilot in World War 1 who took his payload of bombs and dropped them on a quiet field somewhere, because, he said, ‘You can’t go round dropping things like that on people‘, or the Lovat Scout in World War 2 who sent back his medals saying he was coming home to make pacifists out his four sons.
This year its different. I really wonder what we are remembering, and why, and how it makes us feel. Why are we reviving that war-time retro chic? Why do so many political posters echo periods of the past where we felt the need to demonise and fear each other? I don’t think this country feels like one where the nobility of the past is being respected. I think we are looking for an excuse to be angry.
So this year I want to link to a post from 2011, from a different time of year, from a different kind of respect for heroism. I am hanging on to these memories, I can tell you.
Come eleven o’clock, I’m thinking of this sacrifice. And the friends this post made back when I first posted it, including a young Islamic Algerian. If I’m going to keep faith with the past, it’s with the men who pleaded for their grieving families not to blame a people, a faith, for what was going to happen to them, who could imagine meeting their murderers in Heaven and becoming reconciled, who did not need to feel they were the good guys.