After listening to Obama’s Memorial Day speech today, I realised he was right: Many people in this country – including me – are so distanced from war that it’s easy to forget we’re in one. Regardless of our politics or pacifism, we really need to remember how people are still dying in battle – and we mustn’t forget the thousands who have lost their lives in wars before this one.
I was at work during the city’s Memorial Day events, but when I finished, I walked down to Battery Park to take a moment by the war memorials there. I spent time at the Korean War Memorial (54,000 U.S. soldiers killed!), and at the World War II monument, reading their names and their roles, from sergeants to cooks to radio operators.
I actually found it a lot more emotional than I’d expected.
Although I took in the names of the fallen American troops, I think it was natural that I got thinking about British soldiers, too. In particular, I thought about my own family, and how both of my grandfathers fought for their country in WWII.
While both survived the war, they passed away when I was a teenager, and today I felt so sad that I wasn’t really mature enough by that point to know them as people. My paternal grandfather, Grandad Warren (or Grandad Round-the-Twist as we’d call him), fought in World War II and was shipped to Japan, while my mum’s dad, Grandad Jones, was a sergeant who served in France, North Africa and Greece. He was 25 when he married Nannie Jones, and was granted special leave from the army to do so. And it’s no wonder – check her out!
It makes me sad that I can’t hear their stories first hand, but it’s reminded me to ask Nannie Jones more questions when I visit her back in England. It’s a different world and Obama was right – it’s a place that’s really, really hard to put myself in.
I can’t imagine ever being capable of the bravery they were, or the bravery soldiers display today. Thanks to you all!