Monday, 27 July 2009

We will remember them

The passing of Harry Patch reminds me of an interview I heard with him in The Today programme about four years ago.

What struck me then was the sense of a reluctant hero, a paradoxical achronism brought about by longevity. Mr Patch, despite his years, seemed all too aware of this and spoke of how he was merely a survivor, thrust into the spotlight by the passing of time.

A modest and brave man, he spoke of being wounded in WWI when he was 19 and his narrative was both stoic yet colourful, brought to life by the sagacity of his experience. Nevertheless, the one feature of the interview that I always remembered was that he was steadfast in his belief that war was a waste of human life. He also, worryingly, seemed convinced a third world war was looming, this time based on chemicals.

He expressed no wish to be alive when that time came.

I wish to echo the sentiments of Fortmer Timed editor, William Rees-Mogg, the importence of the first WW should never be understimated. In truth, way in which the world was carved up afterwards haunt us still today.

But, despite the mistakes, the valliance of those soldiers must never be forgotten and it's now our burden to carry the lessons of the first World War forward for future generations.

RIP Harry Patch.

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