Saturday, 1 November 2014

A Criticism.

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. 



Lee said...

The majority, I feel, will revere this "event" them cause to pause when, perhaps, they normally would've given it little thought whatsoever.

Sometimes it takes an "event" to help people remember.

I can see no wrong, no harm in it.

Carol said...

1st of November marked 100 years here in AUS when the troops sailed from the west coast to support the cause. Big celebrations or commemorations I should say yesterday in Albany, Western Australia. Tens of thousands of people. I am sure you will find some images online. Love the aerial shot of the poppies. Puts all the other images I have seen of it into perspective.

Brighton Pensioner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brighton Pensioner said...

My comment seems to have disappeared completely so I will repeat that I agree with Lee. This 'event' has led many people to pause and reflect, as I am sure it was intended to do.

Kay G. said...

Having seen this art, I can only say that I was surprised at the emotion that it stirred within me...not only for those who died in World War I, which it is meant to honour, but also all those who have died in all wars and also, considering the Tower itself, all those who died there over the centuries. (That bright red is so like blood that when you see it, it is just...well, it makes you see why ART is so important to mankind!)
Anything that calls attention to those who have sacrificed everything is a good thing and seeing it with a lot of people made it a shared experience that was truly special.
Besides, it also raised money for British military charities, I think, which is also good.
Go and see it, why don't you?
My husband took good photos of it, but nothing like seeing in real life.

Adullamite said...

Lee, You may be right, but I feel it will soon be forgotten.

Carol, The tough Aussies were very popular with the troops. Some from here fought alongside them at Gallipoli.

BP, Indeed it vanished! For some reason the system decided to send everything to spam!!!
I'm sure many will reflect, but soon forget.

Kay, You may be right, but it is too much of an event for me.

Lee said...

Well, it's 2014 and we've not forgotten yet, Adullamite.

Have you forgotten? I don't think so...not from all the reading, writing and research you do on past conflicts.

I find it very strange that you would think that way.

the fly in the web said...

I too have my doubts about 'events' which are spectacles, not commemorations.