War hero honoured 70 years after death

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my local council adding the name of a deceased servicemen to a local monument. At the time I suggested that this action was in some way a reflection British communities having no formal avenue for commemoration.

I argued that:

The British public’s attitude to the current war in Iraq is complex and politically charged. It is the sensitive nature of the debate that has made it difficult for society to memorialise the sacrifice of the modern soldiers. For many the link between opposition to the war and the ability support the solders, irrespective of political standing, is indistinct. This result is an absence of a suitable system of public memorialisation. The lack of major conflict since the Second World War has left our society unused to publicly recognising the sacrifice of its soldiers. Though we openly commemorate Armistice Day, this has become a very general event; dedicated to ALL the soldiers who have been killed whilst fighting abroad. Yet in a way this is an escapist approach. It allows us to avoid addressing our deeper lack of unquestionable support for our soldiers, irrespective of personal political feelings.

I wonder if we are in fact suffering from a feeling of collective guilt, which makes open recognition of the deaths of solders in Iraq and Afghanistan difficult. Politically many people oppose these wars; an opposition I feel is often based on flimsy evidence and understanding. Therefore, when faced with the real consequences of these conflicts, we have no viable outlet for our collective grief.

I suspect that the addition of David Hunt’s name to the town’s memorial has much to be with a transposed reaction to the current conflict in Iraq.

This week I read our local free rag in my usual uninterested fashion, until I came across this article:

War Hero honoured 70 years after death

Basically it’s the same story. Family have found out their relative is not mentioned on a memorial, the council add name, story in paper.

However, this has a few elements I wanted to highlight.

The first is the length of time. In this case it took 70 years for the name to be added. But why now? Why has the daughter suddenly felt the need to include the name at this moment in time?

The second is the manner of commemoration. This is a very local affair, with small service and speech by local dignitary (Deputy Major). This seems to be a pattern – I feel the community element is particularly important. This is reinforced by the sister’s statement that ‘there was no mention of her father locally.’

The third is the picture of the daughter. She is wearing her father’s medals. Is it me or is this a bit strange. Carrying them or holding them up to the camera I would understand, but to wear them implies they are her medals!

None of the family now live in the Parish (the closest is Len, who is about 5 miles away). Yet, they still feel the need to commemorate their relative in the community in which he lived prior to the war. To me this implies they feel their relative died as much for his community as for the country. This idea is reinforced in this post, which suggests the same of an American Civil war veteran.


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