Another November 11th is upon us, bringing with it familiar rituals that exalt peace while honouring the fallen. But as we pause to remember past conflicts, ongoing global violence serves as a sobering reminder that remembrance alone cannot break the repetitive cycle of bloodshed imprinted upon human history.
From solemn cenotaphs commemorating the world wars to emerging memorials for those killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and beyond, each monument stands testament to lives lost under the banner of securing peace. Yet despite refrains of “never again”, the drums of war continue to beat relentlessly.
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This Remembrance Day arrives amidst Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine claiming thousands of innocent lives. It comes as humanitarian disasters unfold in Yemen, South Sudan and Myanmar. As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains locked in a perpetual death grip and extremism sows chaos across Africa.
The majestic monuments littering our landscape are now tributes to a species doomed to repeat past sins, unable to escape endless cycles of conflict. The recited poems ring with melancholy beauty, the ceremonies executed with gravitas. But orations and wreaths only do so much. The wars rage on, and more memorials accumulate atop the ashes of calamities past.
The refrain “lest we forget” rings hollow, as we seem cursed to perpetually forget the lessons these memorials represent. Our remembrance is superficial, our remorse fleeting.
What more will it take before we learn the futility of armed aggression? How many more lives lost and towns reduced to rubble? A century of Remembrance Days has failed to instil a longing for enduring peace, raising despair about our capacity to retain history’s lessons.
On this day of sombre reflection, let us not just pay tribute to the fallen, but also commit to a future where their sacrifice was not in vain. We must advocate diplomacy over aggression, foster global cooperation, and make the pursuit of peace paramount. Only then may “lest we forget” become a pledge to build a world free from war’s horror.
We owe it to past, present and future generations to break the cycle of violence haunting human civilisation. As the melancholy strains of wartime laments fill the November air this Remembrance Day, our shared responsibility is to move beyond hollow platitudes and truly work towards making these ceremonies obsolete.
True remembrance lies not in wreaths and monuments, but in action to break free from the cycles that necessitated them. We owe that much to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
By: Edward Holloway
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