Deidre Brock MP

Member of Parliament for Edinburgh North and Leith

Marking the end of the First World War

In 2014 there was a series of commemorations for the centenary of the start of the First World War. We remembered the sacrifice made by so many; those who would never return home, those who came home broken and those who mourned the loss.

The horrors of the first industrialised war were replayed; we can't ever know what it was really like to be there but we could see the scale of the horror and why so many vowed to make sure it never happened again. It did, of course. The Second World War wreaked havoc across the globe as well and more millions were killed, injured and bereaved.

It's right to remember what happens when nations go to war. It's good for new generations to hear the warnings of previous generations. It's fitting to mark the sacrifices made. Some of the events of 2014 were a bit hubristic but the underlying tone was of remembrance and contemplation.

Throughout 2014 we marked the days of the first year of the First World War, TV documentaries told the story of the battles, the soldiers, the sailors, the people left at home. Radio programmes examined the social effects of the war, newspapers ran special editions, politicians turned up to unveil plaques, public ceremonies marked the past on the face of the present.

It's 2018 now, the centenary of the end of that war. Where are the commemorations of that? Why do we not have a full programme of events to mark the events that led to the peace? There will be some enhancements to the annual commemoration of Armistice Day but not to the same degree as four years ago.

A century ago the battles were still raging, Haig had delivered his Backs to the Wall order and the blood of dead and dying soldiers was still seeping into the mud of the Somme, the carnage still had months to run. That last part of the fighting was no more delicate than the first, it should be remembered just as vividly.

There is a strange balance when we are keen to commemorate the beginning of a war but allow the anniversary of the end of it to slip by almost unremarked. If 2014 was a year to reflect on the events of a century before then surely 2018 is a year to do the same and to mark the peace that came later. The sacrifices and the peace they bought should both be remembered.

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Monday, 24 September 2018

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