Rob Kirk, pictured far right, a former news editor and producer with Sky News, Thames TV and the BBC, and now a military history researcher, writes about the importance of Remembrance.
I’ve been involved in world war research – especially the First World War – for many years, and I’ve often faced the question: ‘Why remember? It’s all in the past – so let’s move on’.
The answer is straight-forward. The past shaped the way we are today – not only the world we grow up in, where we struggle with conflicts the seeds of which were sown long ago. But also the opportunities – or lack of opportunities – we’re dealt as individuals.
If you want to understand where we are today, and what made you what you are, you have to understand how you got here. And to do that, you need to appreciate the blood, sweat and tears spilt by your parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
War has been a defining force in shaping our world; the 20th Century, after all, was the bloodiest in human history, with two world wars and many ‘side-shows’ which killed millions and shifted huge populations.
All the men and women who fought in the First World War have passed on. I was privileged, in that I met some of them when I was a TV producer. I recorded their experiences of ‘going over the top’ in hell-holes like the Somme. It was spell-binding.
I’ve also researched in depth the story of my great grandfather who was killed early in the First World War, in September 1914. On the centenary of his death, I took my daughters, nephew and niece to where he died, at Missy-sur-Aisne in France. It was deeply moving. Most families can trace similar stories.
Now, anyone who fought in uniform in the Second World War has got to be at least 88 years old; many will be much older. That’s not many people, and the number gets fewer and fewer each month.
That’s why I applauded The-Lastest.Com’s production of Divided by Race; United in War and Peace, which brought together so many wonderful contributions from African-Caribbean and African veterans who fought for the British in the Second World War.
And then The-Latest.Com went on to co-produce with BBC TV another very effective telling of a little known story: Fighting for King and Empire: Britain’s Caribbean Heroes.
That’s why this Second World War Living Memorial is so important. It’s significant for us all, but it’s particularly poignant for all those with an African-Caribbean, or indeed a South Asian background.
If people today don’t mark the sacrifices of those who went before, their contributions will be lost. History doesn’t write itself.
Morons in groups like Britain First and the British National Party try to hi-jack the Union flag to suit their own poisonous racist agenda. Don’t let them get away with it.
African-Caribbeans, Africans, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims died protecting the flag. Find out about it – and shout it aloud.