Readers respond to Simon Jenkins’s piece saying that we should move on from the 20th-century obsession with commemorating war
I have a long-held and deeply sympathetic understanding of the issues raised by Simon Jenkins (Too much remembering causes wars. It’s time to forget the 20th century, 9 November). However, my experience of conducting annual services of remembrance for over 40 years has left me with other responses today. I found that after many such services, when we went to the Royal British Legion club, the men and women who had personal experience of war and terrors of war were always very pleased to hear me speak the message that our remembering is a valid activity, even for those can’t actually remember because of their age. The young still remember how their parents and grandparents felt because of this.
The deeper issue is that we need to salute the sacrifice of the fallen and injured which so shaped the 20th and 21st centuries by making it our determination to secure peace as their lasting memorial. At such services, we find politicians of different parties standing side by side. We find leaders of once rival churches leading services together. We find Jewish and Asian and Caribbean people who can connect with the past and share with us the future. This mutual respect is a sign of hope, not war, and we can find in it renewal for our future vision. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana (1863-1952).
Prebendary Neil Richardson