Today is 6th June - 61 years since D-Day. The news and world media seem to have forgotten. Have you?
After last year's pomp and ceremony of the 60 year anniversary and George Bush's sickening speech about "freedom and democracy", nobody is bothering to remind us that this year is just as important for remembering ... so is every year. As i type this, veterans will be returning to the beaches of Normandy and standing on the vast plains, looking out to sea and remembering their fallen comrades. The beaches are silent and beautiful now, but in their ears they will still hear the noise of the machine guns and the screams of agony, see the tide turn red with blood, hear the deafening explosions of the bombs. Some of them have moved on and prefer not to remember, some are trapped back on that day in 1944, unable to move on because of injuries or constant nightmares.
The Veterans are getting less and less, and soon there will be none left to look us in the eye and say "remember". The war was 60 years ago and today's generation may never fully understand just what was sacrificed, therefore they may not care as much, may not buy their poppy, may laugh and take the piss about the "old farts who always talk about The War".
I am of that new generation but I have spoken to many veterans and have read many books of what they went through. I've been to Normandy and walked among the rows and rows of white crosses at Omaha Beach American Cemetary, I've stood on the stunning golden flat sands of Gold and Sword beaches, and I've walked on Omaha beach and looked up a the soaring cliffs with their gun emplacements still there, staring coldly down at me - to imagine them spitting machine gun fire at terrified young men as they were told to run TOWARDS them and take the beach - still makes me shiver when I remember it.
It was very sad to walk amongst all the immaculate white headstones. The only sound was the padding of my feet on the dewy grass as I walked along row after row of young lads, a whole generation of men lost, and some family lines discontinued for good. I rarely saw any that were over 35. They were all so young, and many shared the same day of death – 6th June 1944 age 20, 6th June 1944 age 23, 6th June 1944 age 19, 6th June 1944 age 25...and so it went on.
Throughout the visit, four words were shouting loudly in my head “Why hasn’t anyone learned?”. Why haven’t our “leaders” learned from this stupid waste of lives? Why do our politicians still put profit and big business before human lives? How can they sleep at night? How can all the Presidents and Prime Ministers and world leaders come here every year on 6th June and stand and make speeches about the “heroes” and the “glory” and the “sacrifice”, then go back home in their bulletproof limos to their daily grind of sending more young boys off to fight their oil wars? I think if I were one of those politicians I would find it very hard to look into the eyes of any D-Day Veteran and then go home and sleep at night.
So many lives lost, for the greedy power-hungry whims of so few men ...
We should never forget because remembering each year should drive home to us how fucking pointless and what a waste these wars were and still are, and how the men who start and continue them should be removed from the reins of power.
Every person on this earth should walk amongst the graves any War Cemetary in Normandy, or elsewhere in the world. School trips should take today's selfish and self-centred teens there, to slap some humility and respect into them, and teach them how NOT to run the world in the future.
Next time you see a Veteran out on the streets rattling a can to raise money for a Veterans Association, take time to speak to him, stick a quid in his can, look at his medals or his regiment badge and ask him what he did - you will find he may have some great stories to tell and you'll walk away feeling very humbled. Most of all, say thank you to him for what he did.
And so the killing continues and will doubtless continue until we've successfully managed to wipe ourselves out. Maybe that would be the better thing to do???