The Tower of London has become the scene of what is described as an 'artwork' commemorating the First World War. This was as you will recall involved the United Kingdom from the 4th of August 1914 right up to the armistice at 11 am on the 11th day of November 1918. Around 10 million died, possibly many more. The UK lost 750,000 soldiers plus men at sea and in the air. Between the armistice and the beginning of the Second World War on the 3rd of September 1939 thousands more died of the effects of war through gas inhalation or wounds that never truly healed. Guilt at actions taken, guilt at surviving while others died, stress, unbalanced minds and the difficulty of relating to those around them also caused death and suffering to the survivors. Those who remained at home also changed, and change was in the air before the war, they too suffered even though for many life improved. The twenties did not see a better life for the returning'heroes,' often unemployment and despair were their lot. They had returned victorious having won the the war and found despair all too often.
To commemorate this event the museums, churches, military organisations, football clubs and others have organised a variety of events. Most are heartfelt and represent individuals and organisations who commemorate the fallen annually. Some however worry me. This display at the Tower has brought thousands to walk around admiring the poppies. People travel from across the nation to see the event, and that is for me the worry, 'the event.' For many this commemoration will be just another event, like the queens jubilee or some royals wedding. An event in which those who participate enjoy the spectacular more than the commemoration.
The UK has in recent years began to remember fallen troops in a manner that had passed away in the 60's. Northern Ireland, the Falklands and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have brought home the men who serve and the cost they pay. However for far too many exhibitions such as that at the Tower do not commemorate, indeed they celebrate and offer something interesting to see and enjoy but takes away from what the Great War actually meant to those who were there.
Armistice Day will dawn, the events will cease, many exhibitions close, plays run their course and then the nation will return to the daily grind and forget once again. The 'event' has ended.