I understand what you mean Al because it is a beautiful part of us as people that we get emotional at acts of humanity, that show the best in us all even in the face of unspeakable horror. There was a discussion about this on Facebook, where several forum friends gave their opinion – including me – and I was accused of being a left wing cynic!
I have sort of been feeling quite emotional about all this stuff recently. Probably a toxic mix of growing a year older, awareness of the age of my parents, and the centenary of this whole slaughter.
My dad has been quite upset by all the centenary stuff – he lost both his grandparents in World War One – one whose body was never found and honoured on the Menin Gate, the other of his wounds at a military hospital, at 34, leaving his widow to bring up seven kids on her own.
People don't need to tell me about the human element of war – both my grandparents never knew their fathers, growing up way before their time, supporting their families before widow's pensions and charities were there to help families of the war dead. The horror of it echoes through the generations, right up to mine.
A friend at the time also talked about her great grandfather, who refused to fight but was sent to the front as a stretcher bearer. He granny told her that, when he arrived home, he stared into space for days on end, awoke with night terrors, running round the house screaming.
My cynicism does not come from being typical or left wing. It comes from the sorrow passed down through my family, the loss of sons and fathers, the hardship, the hard hearts, the changing of lives forever, and not for the better, and not for justice, or the defeat of fascism, or the triumph of right, but for a sheer pointless waste and horror of it all and objecting to that being used to sell mince pies and pigs in blankets to an over-stuffed generation who could do well to learn about human values, which have nothing to do with how much your spend on your Christmas shopping.
I could weep and have before and I think that, somewhere along the line, collective experience of your family makes you what you are. Like to think that possibly, being a leftie, whether people think its cynical or not, is quite a fitting way to remember my granny's father and the waste of a little girl growing up without a daddy. xxx