"In this proud land we grew up strong ..."
It’s got a certain ring to it hasn’t it?
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month; Remembrance Day (also known as Veterans Day, Armistice Day or Poppy Day). A day put aside especially to “commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War”.
Of course, it isn’t enough to just pin a paper poppy onto your lapel for the day and go about your daily business. If your daily job has you being quiet for long periods at a time, it isn’t enough to say, “I wasn’t speaking at 11 ‘o’clock anyway" and claim you observed the 2 minutes silence.
It is a moment of quiet reflection. A time to actually think about and consider the sacrifice that ordinary people made all those years ago; people like you and me.
And while the 11th of the 11th relates specifically to the First World War (major hostilities with the Germans were formally ended then in 1918), it is also a time for unsung heroes that have died since WWI to be remembered.
As very important as I think it is to commemorate however, part of me can’t help but think that something is ….. missing.
At the risk of sounding like Bob Geldof or Bono, there are people dying all around the world in vast numbers, every single day.
Does the world stop to remember them?
Homes are burnt or bulldozed, families are butchered, individuals tortured to death.
Do we come together each year in their memory?
Some people die fighting for the greater good (according to the governments of the time) but many die simply because they believe in a different God or that they inhabit a land that another has laid claim to.
There are many places in the world where oppression is rife but a couple of notables are Africa (pretty much all of it at one time or another) and the Middle East.
I know, I have mentioned the Middle East several times before and it is (and has been since before I was born) a terribly troubled place, not to mention the hottest of political hot potatoes. Yes, I have an interest in the region and yes, I have got some very strong views about it, as have many others who have seen first hand what is going on there.
As mentioned in the past, thanks to the job I do, one of the perks I have is getting to meet and listen to various “faces” from television and radio. If I am remotely interested in their chosen topic, I hurry along to grab a seat and sometimes, a free sandwich (or three).
Now, who could possibly top everyone that I have ever had the luck of seeing up until today?
How about Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East Editor?
Yeah, that’ll do nicely thank you.
So it was that I found myself sat near the front of a packed seminar room, too excited to eat anything. He spoke briefly about the Middle East as a whole before opening the room up for questions and almost the entire session was devoted to the Palestinian/Israeli problem and what could likely be done about it?
With Tony Blair as their spokesman, neither the United States, Russia, the European Union or the United Nations (collectively known as the Quartet), could offer anything that might hint at some hope of peace between the two warring nations, nor have they been able to in the year since Britain’s former Prime Minister took up the post.
But things happen too slowly in this part of the world to get too excited about a possible solution. See here for plaudits being given for an initiative for peace that was offered in 2002. It’s taken nearly 7 years to even be recognised, let alone be put into action.
Realistically though, peace is pretty far from being a likely outcome in such a hotly disputed land of such important religious significance to Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.
There doesn’t seem anything remotely divine about the images and news reports that come out of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron, otherwise known as the “Holy Land”.