Friday, 11 November 2005

Rest in Peace Unknown Warrior.

Today is the day that we remember the deaths of those who gave their lives in two World Wars and numerous military hostilities.
The British Legion red poppy is sold to raise funds for those who remain alive but suffer from events of such encounters. Less and less poppies are being sold. Volunteers who have been selling them were threatened. There is a movement to institute white poppies for those who have antipathy to military memorials. Generally, those who made the ultimate sacrifice are being forgotten and, more importantly, the reasons that they gave their lives are derided.
Whilst the wounds of war were still sore, a Army padre set in chain a series of events that were to lead to a unknown warrior being interred in Westminster Abbey alongside illustrious men in a ceremony that would normally only be afforded to the highest generals. The bodies of a number of men buried on the battlefields were gathered together and a random selection made. The utmost attention was paid to keeping this man’s identity secret. He was therefore able to serve as the single focus of remembrance and honour for the very large number of men who disappeared between 1914 and 1918. Bear in mind that battlefields of those times were not described as today such as “killing grounds” but were named as “mincing machines”. Men were buried where they fell. It was not always possible to mark the grave at that time.
The idea of having Unknown Warriors spread around the world.
There exists a movement in America to use the very latest DNA techniques to seek to identify their Warrior. It seems that this is possible. Doubtless, this proposal will come to us and be taken up by the Knowledge is All people. I cannot think of much that is more hideous. Apart from the fact that a grave will have to be violated, identifying the Warrior will destroy the whole reason for it’s existence. No more will I be able to honour a great-uncle who could well be the man chosen. Anyone who knows that a long-dead relative was killed, burial place unknown, will be deprived of a physical focus for their grief. In a modern world where we seem to go overboard on such matters – what I call the Lady Di Syndrome – this is just nonsense.

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