Today is Remembrance Day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns fell silent over Europe in 1918. But to preserve the macabre symmetry of that date, the politicians and the generals insisted that young men of all nations continue to slaughter each other right up to the last moment.
I never knew my grandfather. He died long before I was born, but I wish I had met him. I wish I had the opportunity to speak with him, though I suspect he would not have wanted to talk about the things he saw in the Somme all those years ago. I’m told he suffered his entire life as a result of the horrors he witnessed.
Every year, on Remembrance Sunday, a small ceremony takes place in Limerick, and I attend it every year.
I don’t go in order to celebrate the war. I don’t go because I think the soldiers fought to keep small nations free. They did not. Plucky little Belgium with its African colonies cared nothing for small nations.
I go to the ceremony because in this small way, I can honour the memory of my unknown grandfather and all the young men like him who returned from the hell of the Somme and spent the rest of their days trying to make sense of it.