qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

poliphilo writes about the centenary of the British entry into World War 1. Like him, I am at best vague about the causes - assassination, sedition and international treaties. I dropped history at the first opportunity at school and WW1 had never featured in lessons as far as I remember (though we did study WW2, the Chinese Revolution and the Polish Solidarity movement). English, which of course was mandatory until GCSE, featured War Poetry and Journey's End. If I had any interest (which is doubtful), the unremitting misery for no clear reason (Michael Gove may wish to correct me) pretty much killed it off. In recent memory, the only thing that sparked an interest was the fact that Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey from Dad's Army) served on the Somme. No doubt it's simplistic to describe WW2 in Good-vs-Evil terms, but it's not inaccurate and it provides a fairly straightforward narrative.

Why don't we "remember" the Crimean War? The Napoleonic Wars? Life may have been Nasty, Brutish and Short in the past but I don't think John Prescott could have said "we're all middle class now" in 1914. I suppose the notion of Remembrance came about in part because WW1 was the "war to end all wars". Certainly that was something we seemed to forget.
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