My mind has been full this week of the commemorations going on as we’re reminded – constantly – of the start of the slaughter which happened in Europe between 1914 and 1918.
Why, I wonder, do we need to commemorate the start of such a filthy war? Why do we say that those who died “gave their lives” when we know full well that those lives were taken? Conscription was used to fill the ranks as the war dragged on. And the conscripts – ordinary lads from the slums of Britain mainly – were slaughtered in their thousands.
And yet we must remember. We must remember that the First World War was started by politicians. We must remember those who started it were seeking power and material gains. We must remember that most of those who fought that war had been convinced by propaganda that they were doing it “for King and Country”. We must remember that those ordinary lads who were convinced were used as virtual slaves by the power-seekers before that war started.
These thoughts were started by hearing of the unveiling of a memorial plaque at the Menin Gate, near Ypres, Belgium, on Sunday of this week.
It is a plaque dedicated to our Welsh soldiers who were killed in that awful fray. They had died “in Flanders field”, and nearly every family in Wales and in Britain lost someone in that “War To End All Wars”.
Whenever I pass through a place in Wales where there’s a war-memorial, I stop – if I can – and read the names of the dead commemorated. Yes, it was a century ago when it all began. But the truths about what happened must be remembered.
And a final question. The Menin Gate plaque has inscriptions in four languages. Why is not Welsh one of them?