I've been wondering today why we do what we did today each year - before I left for lectures this morning BBC News 24 was showing the French and German premiers commemorating the end of the Great War. Armistice Day specifically remembers the end of that war - known, ironically, as The War To End All Wars.
Let's face it, that was an entree. An appetiser, a bit of a warm-up. Bitter irony in the French and Germans commemorating the end of that war because they were at it again twenty years later and dragged the whole world into it. Again.
I can't quite understand why Armistice Day still exists as an event in itself in the format that it does. Remembrance Sunday serves as a memorial to those who have died in wars worldwide, something to stop the world from ever doing it again. It's strange that we sort of start the commemorations from 1914, as if war before then was infinitely more civilised and middle class. Possibly more amateurish as well - it's all become a lot more professionalised since.
World War One never did much at all to end all wars - in fact it was the primary catalyst for the encore. It left such a bitter taste in Germany's mouth that they invented the Nazis to seek their revenge - politics is nothing if not populist and of its time. But Central Europe had been an area of tremendous tension for decades before the Second World War - as much as we quibble with the concept now, the only reason there hasn't been another one since then is the genesis of the European Union. It started as a trade organisation with the express purpose of locking France and Germany into a relationship so tight they could never kill each other again. Like sticking them in a room until they start talking again, but with steel.
Perhaps it's the formation of that, those efforts to enter into our more perfect union that we should be commemorating, and spending the time to remember the people who died to make that happen.
4 hours ago