21 Aug 2014

Just Married

On 8th August, one of the wettest days of the year, me and my beloved Tom got married at Rutland Water.

It was perfect.

4 Aug 2014

World War One

One hundred years ago today, World War One started. I don't know of much personal history in WW1. My dad's granddad lost his leg after a shrapnel wound, and one of my mum's granddads lost his mind. My family were not high status officers, or medal recipients, as far as I'm aware. Unlike World War Two, which is still in living memory for many, WW1 never really has been in my lifetime. It's almost a ghost of a war, as all wars end up being.

Last year, I went to France for the first time. We stayed in Verdun, which saw a year long battle in 1916 between Germany and France. When driving to Verdun along the A roads, we saw hundreds of war graves. Thousands even. Not in huge, formal cemeteries, but in small ones, just by the side of the road. And every single one is immaculate. Someone still cuts the grass. People still visit the gravestones. Bodies are still dug up every single year, and nobody knows who they are. In that area of France, WW1 is not a distant memory: it's living history.

Nothing drove into me the sheer horror of WW1 like seeing those small, unforgotten, cemeteries. Nothing drove into me the numbers of men who died like seeing the lines of white headstones. No TV footage, no worn memorial in a town centre or church, no amount of paper poppies can hammer home the scale of death like seeing the graves of the men who died. The endless sea of white on green.

Wars are happening right now. Terrible wars, wars for land, resources, religion. Wars where children are ripped to pieces alongside adults. And we shake our heads at the destruction, watch programs on the horror,  make infographics and pithy anti-war slogans, and write blogs about how awful it is. But how easily humanity forgets the slaughter, years down the line.

Some have condemned today's memorial services for celebrating the advent of World War One. But it's not a celebration. It's a commemoration of millions of lost lives, civilian as well as military. An acknowledgement of the millions more lives marred by war.

Just remember.