Tuesday, 11 November 2008

I have always had an interest in history. History of all kinds. In particular I have, for some reason, had a kind of fascination about military history. I started in the way it does for many young boys, something about soldiers and warfare seems like a good game.

But it has carried on and now I am equally interested and disturbed by the whole thing. When I get chance I like to read about it and recently I've read books about British Commandos in World War Two, German U Boats and the Western Front in The First World War. Today I read about the Second World War in Greece and on Crete, because I didn't know a lot about it.

Last night I watched the time team programme about underground dugouts in Ypres, then found Band of Brothers was on.

I've just got back from seeing Oh What a Lovely War at the Arena Theatre.

I really eat this stuff up. It's matched only by my interest in Music, Film, and Comedy.

But I don't like it. Everything I've read has led me to understand the horror and uselessness of war.

I'm interested in the stories and the machines of it all. I can name battles and aircraft. I was in the ATC from 13 to 19 and enjoyed it greatly; I was a Flight Sergeant by end of it which meant I was the one doing the Bull and the shouting. Show me a tank and I'll find it interesting, but hate the idea of what it is for. What a hypocrite I am.

It seems I’m not the only one. The whole country is like it.

On the news today a roaming reporter at the Menin Gate interviewed a veteran about the terrible suffering and the fallen friends he is remembering and then spoke to his grandson. At the end the conversation with the child the reporter asked "would you like to be a soldier?"

Strange isn't it. It's good that this country has a festival of remembrance. I'm often annoyed that more people aren’t interested in the stories of soldiers, but at this time of year most people do there little bit to mark respect for them. Then there are the people serving today, they require our respect and support too, even though so many of us don't agree with the reasons they were sent to the places they are currently serving in. In fact they need our support even more in that case.

So I’m interested in this stuff and I'm sickened by it. A man of contradictions you see

Think also of the people who died in the less famous wars and conflicts such as Korea, Suez, Aden, Bosnia, Cyprus. The list is long and sad.

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