Every year, I make a little post to remember those men who lost their lives in both world wars.
There can hardly be a family in this town, or any other, who went untouched by those two conflicts, and not simply in an abstract way. For every man who died in the mud of Flanders or on the beaches at Gallipoli, ten more were broken physically and mentally. Those men came home to Ireland and raised families or sank into alcoholism. They faced rejection, ostracism and general contempt for having joined the British army, even though many of them did so out of economic necessity.
Here’s what I think about it. These men were our grandfathers and our great-grandfathers. Some of them fought out of conviction. Some of them joined up, like many other young lads, in search of adventure, soon to be cut short by the brutality of war. Many chose, idealistically, to fight against Hitler and who could criticise them for that when our own country didn’t offer them the opportunity?
One way or another, we need to remember these men each year, just as we remember the others who went before us, because these men belong to us. We might not agree with their motivations, but they are our forebears and we must keep them in our hearts or else risk losing our past.
The other alternative is to hold on to old bitterness forever and poison ourselves in the process.
I’d rather cling to an old ancestor than cling to an old wrong. What about it?