28 June – my birthday
100 black balloons released in a clear dawn, above the Kentish countryside. Did you see them, floating delicately, ominously, on the cool air?
They signalled the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, by a 19-year old Serbian man. It was the event that catapulted the world into four years of warfare on an unprecendented,industrial scale. It was an excuse used by power-hungry politicians and leaders to make new allies and predate on other countries.
What is different today?
What have we learned from remembering for one hundred years the tragedy and loss of life that was ‘the War to end all Wars’?
Today is 2nd August – Monday is the 100th anniversary of Britain declaring war on Germany. Everywhere there are arts-related/war-related events, commemorating the centenary. My local church has a small exhibition of details of the lives of the men from the village who lost their lives. They have added ‘Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ to their display. Will it encourage people to do more than shake their heads and say ‘tut’ ‘tut’? I doubt it.
We feel there’s nothing we can do,as each new atrocity unfolds before our eyes today: the killing of civilians in Gaza, the shooting down of a passenger aircraft over Ukraine, we protest quietly. We could be on the brink of a third World War, and there are some that would welcome it, just as in 1914.