Edinburgh war memorial fire: Burning of wreaths suggests greater education is needed to restore empathy for those who grieve for the fallen – Scotsman comment

It may have been nothing more than an act of wanton destruction, but whatever the ‘reasons’ behind the burning of memorial wreaths in Edinburgh, it raises questions about the level of respect within society at large for those killed in war.

Wreaths laid at the Edinburgh City Chambers war memorial were set on fire
Wreaths laid at the Edinburgh City Chambers war memorial were set on fire

It is shocking that wreaths laid at the Stone of Remembrance outside the City Chambers were set alight because such memorials are usually protected by a general sense that they are sacred spaces. If this is a sign that reverence for our war dead is beginning to wane, that should be a matter of great concern to all.

These are people who gave their lives in the Second World War to help save Europe from the horror of the genocidal Nazis and in other conflicts for the sake of their country. They are not politicians, but rather individuals whose lives were cut short and who deserve to be remembered.

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In doing so, we are reminding ourselves of the human cost of war, a lesson that remains as relevant today as it ever was, as demonstrated by the fighting in Ukraine. Memorials do not glorify war, but instead provide a warning against it.

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In addition to performing this useful function, they are also places of mourning for relatives, in much the same way as a grave. As such, any vandalism of this kind is needlessly cruel to those who grieve the loss of loved ones, however many years have passed.

We hope whoever is responsible is caught and punished, but it may take greater education about the sacrifices made by the fallen before the appropriate degree of empathy is restored.

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