Shropshire Star comment: Vital we all continue to remember
You can tell the story of the Great War in figures.
One topical figure is that it ended 100 years ago this Sunday.
Others are the casualty statistics. They run to millions.
But it wasn’t a war about figures and statistics. It was a war of men and women, girls and boys, with emotions, feelings, experiences, fears and anxieties. Those who came home had many a story to tell of death and horror.
By and large, they chose not to tell them. Yet what they saw and experienced would stay with them for the rest of their lives. In some cases, especially for those who had been gassed and managed to struggle on, that was not to be very long.
As the sun was setting on that generation, the last of them felt they could at last open up somewhat. Among their contemporaries, nothing needed to be said. For those who came after, it was an act of passing on knowledge.
It is still less than 10 years since the death of Harry Patch, the last fighting Tommy who, as it happens, lived for a time in Shropshire.
With the extinguishing of the light there is nobody now alive to give an eyewitness account. The thread, though, remains unbroken.
Children, themselves in old age now, can tell of parents who went through those times. Grandchildren too, who asked granddad what he did in the Great War, and were given an answer.
A sadness for them was their sacrifice did not bring an enduring peace, and even at the moment of triumph the seeds were being laid which were to see, little over 20 years later, a new generation having to go through it all again, with the same enemy.
In your Shropshire Star today we highlight the experiences of some of those heroes of the Great War.
There was a core of professionals for whom life in uniform was a career choice. But huge numbers of them were volunteers or conscripts who flocked to the colours to serve their country in its hour of need, leaving behind their peacetime jobs and families who prayed for their safe return.
The dynamics of the Armistice commemorations have changed. There was a time when almost everyone could remember those whose names are carved on the war memorials.
We must now be at, or very near, the point where nobody alive can. Yet we can still remember as an act of remembrance.