I’m delighted that the government intend to mark the centenary of the Great War under plans announced by the Prime Minister yesterday.
Having recently spent a week in the Somme region of France, understanding the nature of trench warfare, and visiting numerous Commonwealth war graves, I’m keen that any commemoration places limits on any glorification of war. And so I’m pleased that the Prime Minister said this in his announcement,
“However frustrating and however difficult the debates in Europe, 100 years on we sort out our differences through dialogue at meetings around conference tables, not through the battle on the fields of Flanders or the frozen lakes of Western Russia,”
He said the First World War “matters not just in our heads, but in our hearts”, which must give countries across Europe “a confidence and determination never to go back”.
One of the party in the summer school is involved in taking small parties of school children to visit the WW1 battlefields and war graves. I must say that’s not something I thought happened. It’s also pleasing, therefore, to hear the Prime Minister building on this by putting education at the centre of the commemoration, saying,
“The centenary will also provide the foundations upon which to build an enduring cultural and educational legacy to put young people front and centre in our commemoration and to ensure that the sacrifice and service of 100 years ago is still remembered in 100 years’ time.”
In the summer school we heard of some of the individual acts of heroism and sacrifice. My idea, of how to commemorate the centenary of WW1, is that we tell some of these stories, specifically adapted for radio. Say, in a 15 minute programme beginning on the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict on August 4th, 2014.
Perhaps, two stories could be told in that 15 minutes, which could be played on radio each week, so that in a year we’ll have heard 100 stories. Thereby matching the centenary. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of images of the Great War. A chance to listen, and imagine can be, I think, more powerful than a surfeit of images.
I’m even tempted to be the producer of the series.