A Reflection on the Commemoration of WW1

An entire generation of European leaders put all they had into making the European project above all a peace project. That is their greatest accomplishment, but all they get in return is ingratitude: the post-war generations grew up in ever-increasing prosperity and security, but they fail to recognize just how extraordinary their lives are….

All you have to do is look at Gaza or Ukraine – in this globalized world that’s right on Europe’s doorstop – to see how vulnerable peace can be and how quickly an infernal spiral of violence can develop. For that reason such commemorations must not degenerate in the years to come into a bonanza for small businesses and their trade in souvenirs. They must provide moments of reflection and understanding that peace does not come of its own accord, but that it must be striven for….

It is an appeal to today’s fighting parties to end their violence.

Source: Yves Desmet in de Morgen (Belgium, August 4)


One response to “A Reflection on the Commemoration of WW1

  1. For thousands of years groups of people celebrated their great victories, with re-enactments and stories made into myths as part of their culture. The industrialization of war (esp. killing) started 100 years ago, apparently to everyone’s surprise. I suppose that is one big thought.

    Another is my lack of understanding of what I (or anyone) is supposed to do about it. In peacetime (or once a year in November) we can try to reflect and understand. But, as war, or threats of war, approach, almost everyone, especially leaders, display as much understanding and reflection as those in early 1914. Thus, my confusion and ambivalence when everyone here wears poppies with great seriousness. It seems to be a new type of re-enactment. I’m still thinking about that. What are these commemorations really for?

    The European peace project was, I believe, a result of WWII (not WWI) and nurtured, probably, by the Cold War. We are now in a great realignment of power, politics, religion, resources, commerce, etc. I wish we’d had more than 100 years to learn how to handle it.