It would be difficult to avoid the D-Day commemorations this weekend.
The coverage of those remembering their fallen comrades has been at
times moving and at times infuriating.
Radio Four has been running some incredibly powerful platys on the
subject of D-Day and had some wonderful interviews with survivors. They
also marred the day with a special edition of Any Questions for instance
which seemed to be an opportunity for a bunch of nobodies to use this
occasion to say how right war is under any circumstances. They then had
a special edition of 'what if' asking what if the D-Day landings had
failed. Now the smug pedantry of most of the commentators aside they
seemed to think the soldiers at D-Day's main contribution to world
history was the defeat of communism - well, that's Radio Four for you.
As we try to dodge those who justify today's occupation on the back
of yesterday's war of liberation one letter in the Independent is really
worth re-printing in full
"Remember D-Day, but my
medals are staying in a drawer
"Sir: I'm tired of old men with medals. What a
shocking sentiment, many will say. But hold on, I am an old man, and I
fought and survived two tanks, and somewhere in a drawer I have some
"I think there was a right and wrong in that war,
more so than in most. I think Hitler was wrong and resisting him was
right. But the war was fought, as all are, by young men with little
chance of critically evaluating "their" side's virtue. They went
because they where told to, because it was their "duty", because their
mates where going and because to stand against the tide was too lonely
and to scary to contemplate. And so millions of young Brits , young
Germans, Russians and Americans went off to foreign fields, there to
kill each other.
"Let us remember their bravery and their loss with
sadness. But put the medals away and silence the drums, for these are
all part of the apparatus of seduction by which our leaders lead us
into such follies. If pictures of the Nazi rallies send shivers down
our spines, then so should the annual solemn military theatre of the
Cenotaph, which in the guise of regret for the last war glories in the
military ethos. Still appalled by the Nazi regime, I have to remember
that just as Hitler was telling the German young that they were a
master race, destined to rule the world, that is exactly what I was
being taught about being a Brit in the British Empire.