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Reflecting on the wars of yesterday and today

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Tue Nov 11, 2014

Today, November 11 is Remembrance Day or Poppy Day, a day which has been observed in the member nations of the Commonwealth, since the end of the First World War.

This year’s commemoration comes 100 years after the beginning of the First World War (which was supposed to be the war to end all wars) and 75 years since the start of the Second.{{more}}

The official purpose of the Day is to get people to think about the past, to commemorate those who gave their lives in war and to honour the veterans.

Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, our local commemoration pays tribute to the 61 Vincentians who died during the First World War (1914 – 1918) and the four who died in the Second World War (1939 – 1945).

Those 65 sons of the Vincentian soil gave their lives while serving with the armed forces of the “mother country” – Great Britain.

There was a good turnout of members of uniformed groups at the Remembrance Day Parade that was held in Kingstown last Sunday. Interestingly, not even the parents of most of these young people on parade were born during the period of either of the World Wars.

It would be interesting to elicit from those on parade or the members of the general public who are wearing red poppies on their lapels what they are remembering and why.

St Vincent and the Grenadines does not have a standing army and although today, dozens of Vincentians serve in the British army and navy, the concept of a war between military forces is thankfully remote to most Vincentians.

What we are more familiar with today are wars of words among our fellow citizens, made public on the radio and on social media; squabbles among family members and friends; dysfunctional families and domestic violence; murder and rape rates which are way too high for as tiny a country as ours and political tribalism that is ripping our nation apart.

These wars, too, have their victims and while masses of people may not be affected all at once, they could be just as destructive.

While reflecting therefore, on the ordinary Vincentians who laid down their lives while fighting to keep the Empire free, we should also reflect on our daily interactions with our fellow citizens and do our best to rid our country of the destructive battles we wage against one another.

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