Posted by: madkentdragon | September 15, 2010

Please Remember & Never Forget

When I was a child the war was still a recent memory and National Service was still in existence, but no-one talked about it. I was told that before I was born, my father had been a Japanese prisoner of war and that Mr W who lived up the road had been in the horse-guards for 15 years, but nothing else was said.

Oh there was talk about a bomb going off at the bottom of Lancet Lane that had made a few roofs feel as if they had lifted and that one of Mrs L’s sons had brought back a Belgian wife, but no other details. Even in school, neither the First nor the Second World War had been taught in history, and I hadn’t got a clue how either had started or what we were doing fighting in these wars, or even what had happened!

Uncle Reg laughed about being sea-sick on the way back from Dunkirk and losing his false teeth over the side of the boat, but I hadn’t got a clue as to what it was all about. No-one talked about it, I saw some references to Korea on our little black & white TV screen and I knew that Uncle Eric had been on National Service in Aden – he brought me back an ivory fan, which I’ve still got, but the reason that they were there escaped my pre-teen brain.

I was part of the complacent generation who knew little and cared less about foreign wars and Vietnam was America’s war and didn’t affect us at all – apart from changing our pop music to “Peace & Love” type of thing and the Beatles grew long hair! In fact it was only because my father wouldn’t allow me to go that I didn’t end up in the army – I had to go into the civil service instead.

I certainly don’t remember anyone celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the First World War in ’68, but I was more interested in rearing a family and trying to keep it all together so it may have escaped me.

I sold Poppies most years and always wore one, but didn’t know where the money went, as a Girl Guide I’d marched on Remembrance Sunday and knew that was to remember those who died in the wars – but wars didn’t affect us any more – did they?

I didn’t know that there was only one year since 1945 that a service man hadn’t died on duty. We woke up a bit in the ‘70s when the Irish troubles started, and I can remember a bomb going off just down the road from where we lived in Maidstone, fortunately there were no real casualties, the only time the Regiment (26RE) marched through town was on the annual civic parade and on Remembrance Sunday.

It wasn’t until the Falklands that some of this country (me included) woke up to what the armed service were doing – and there was a victory parade in London. Then, when all the other conflicts happened; and our lads & lasses worked with the UN in the former Yugoslavia etc, that I truly realised what it was about because my son (TA) volunteered to go twice – but when they came back, they were put back in their box like a load of lead soldiers, no-one cheered and clapped and we were all still complacently going about our business not even giving it a thought!

At least now with the latest conflicts the public are at last sitting up and taking notice and there are parades and receptions and we are remembering.

As we remember the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, my one hope is that we never become that complacent ever again and that lessons can be learned this time round that were ignored in the past.

Remember them please, buy your Poppy because you know where the money goes and never forget that for every life lost there are at least 5 wounded who will need our love and care for a long, long time.


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