Sunday, 24 August 2014

100 years ago

The deadline for the SaveAs Writers ‘The Bigger Picture’ competition was yesterday. It’s a great idea for a competition; produce a piece of poetry or prose inspired by art about the Great War. 

In case you’ve been living in a cave, and have missed all the media coverage, it’s 100 years since the start of the First World War. On 28 June 1914 Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, and on 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany.

It’s a horrific part of our history that we’re so lucky not to have lived through. And even though it’s so long ago, emotions surrounding it still run strong. It’s incredibly moving looking at paintings, hearing music from the time, seeing films based on events that happened then – the suffering of those who experienced it rushes forward across the years to hit us in the face, to make us stop and think, and appreciate what we have now.

The centenary seems to seep into our everyday life. I’ve lost count of the number of conversations that I’ve heard or taken part in around it, it triggers conversations about the Great War, other Wars, personal experience, family traditions.

Last week on the beach it led to a woman I didn’t know, telling me that she can’t see Spitfires at airshows without crying, as her dad was involved in secret ops during WW2. She didn’t find this out until after he died. Even talking to me, her voice was loaded with emotion as she said this explains why he was like he was, but at least he came home. And it made me stop, and wonder,  how many survivors were damaged to the point that they couldn’t show their feelings, couldn’t be good parents? And how was this translated through the generations, I’m sure children born today are still affected by this.

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