Repentance day

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Adam Brown (Letters, 1 November) wrote that he was appalled at the apathy in respect of commemorating the centenary of the First World War

I found Michael Fry’s recent thoughtful piece (Perspective, 13 June) on the subject singularly arresting. It was not his use of the word “commemoration” which stopped me in my tracks; rather it was his use of the word “celebration”. If I do him a disservice, I apologise. However, my sense of his piece was that “commemoration” could easy slide into “celebration”.

We should not commemorate or celebrate the First World War. Rather, we should remember the young men from both sides who were torn from their hamlets, villages and towns to be slain in their thousands by the folly and the hubris of politicians. Perhaps Westminster needs to remember that it does not exist in a political vacuum. The Germans are now our allies and we have common interests. How are they going to feel about us as they watch us drifting into triumphalism as we commemorate and celebrate the war?

Did not German mothers, fathers and sisters feel the same profound and heartbreaking grief, which would lie in their hearts like great lumps of lead until they day they died, like their British counterparts?

I seek to persuade that we should not “commemorate” or “celebrate”, but rather that on the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month we will continue to remember and hope against hope that we never again call our young men from their hamlets, villages and towns to slay each other by the million.

Commemoration? No. We need to remember again our dead, our follies, our foolishness and grieve and repent on both sides. What else is Remembrance Day for?