Why it is important to remember wars and those who fought in them – Sophie Garrod, Phoenix Arizona

As the Centenary of the Armistice draws near, allied countries all around the world are thinking the same thoughts as those of us here in Australia.

Sophie Garrod from Phoenix, Arizona has contributed her thoughts for us all to share.

 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. It is important to remember history, war and those who sacrificed themselves more than ever.

All wars touch the lives of everyone; families, friends, colleagues. Soldiers were injured or killed on the battlefield and those who survived returned home with memories of war we can only imagine.

But it is not just those on the front line that served. Many who stayed behind had their part to play, such as working in the factories to make the clothes or on the farms to produce the food that they ate.

Without their bravery, we would not be the same people we are today. Memorial Day gives us all time to remember what these amazing people sacrificed for us. For the families that have lost relatives in more recent times, there is even greater meaning to the day. If you know of any veterans that are currently serving or who have served, give thanks to them.

Unfortunately, it seems as though what was once was a clear picture of what life was like during times of war is starting to fade. With the passing of Florence Green, the last WW1 veteran in 2012, there is no one left on the planet that knows first hand how it really was.

When we look at pictures and read texts from the war, we see a world very different from our own. These sources teach us about our shared history. It is important that we do not forget. The only way to understand our own time is to remember what has happened in the past.

Everything from the poems and letters written by the heroes and their loved ones have significance. These are the only things that we have left to give a sense of reality that these things really happened all those years ago. History needs to be remembered so that future generations can understand and realize how lucky they are.

Over the next few months, countries around the world will be remembering, with national services and salutes. Charities will be working to build better awareness and aiming to raise funds to help veterans and their families. Remembrance will transcend across all aspects of life, including sports teams signifying their thanks and respect with memorials sewn into jerseys.

But there is also a need to educate people further on our wartime history, especially after a 2012 survey  conducted by think-tank British Future revealed that (at the time of publishing) more than half of 16-24-year-olds did not know the start date of the First World War and 60 per cent could not say when it ended.

Thankfully, the forthcoming centenary of the end of The Great War offers an ideal opportunity to share the truths of The Great War with young people. As the British Future survey shows, just 44 per cent of adults know about the contribution of Commonwealth Soldiers in the wars. Yet 1.3 million people volunteered with the British Indian Army in the First War (70,000 lost their lives); and this doubled in the Second World War.

Every single one of those people deserves to be remembered with honor and dignity. It does not matter who you are or what your background is, we all owe a debt of gratitude to those who fought for our freedoms a century ago.

By remembering their service and their sacrifice, we recognize the right to freedom these men and women fought to preserve. They believed that their actions at the time would make a significant difference for the future, but it is up to us to ensure that their fight for peace was not in vain.

So, as we come together over the coming months, it’s time to think about how we all have a duty to educate future generations on how those who went before us have sacrificed everything, so we may have something to live for.