Monday, 23 September 2019
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Edward Thomas

For an allegedly undemonstrative nation, the British have one overt symbol that binds them together - the annual display of an artificial representation of a flower that came to symbolise the loss of a generation, the Flanders poppy emerging from blood soaked and torn asunder fields on the front line of a European civil war which lasted a century and a half. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Britain remembers.

Not just the dead of the Great War, the war to end all wars, the victims of the killing fields of industrial warfare on a previously unimaginable scale, the crucible for weapons deployed even more fearfully a scant twenty one year later, that spawned the scarred political leaders and commanders who would once again lead their men to the slaughter and thrust their civilian populations into the gun and bomb sights too, but also the dead of later wars which came round with further butcher's bills to pay too. Despite peace in Europe, in only one year of the last half century has no British soldier fallen.

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