Straight Talking: Need for memorials is greater than ever
There is much to condemn about today's society, but one thing that is continually heartening is the degree of solemnity and respect the people of Doncaster show every Remembrance Sunday.
It is outrageous that for centuries the lie was given that war is glorious. The First World War proved it was not. The original veterans who did so much to tell us the truth about the horrors of armed conflict may now no longer be with us, but sadly war always is. We now remember those who have fallen or been injured in countless conflicts.
The wars our brave troops have been asked to fight in over the past decades have been far afield, but it is on days like these that we are reminded that every war strikes at home. Behind every unknown solider there is also an unknown family and the people of Doncaster know that all too well.
It is gratifying then that Doncaster will soon be a place where appropriate memorials are built. Among these is the Northern Battle of Britain Monument to be constructed in the grounds of the South Yorkshire Air Museum.
It is vital that the 2927 men who fought in the pivotal battle are all commemorated and that young people are made aware of their sacrifice which resulted in Hitler abandoning his plans to invade Britain. The air crews were mostly British but fourteen other nations also contributed to the heroic effort, including major contingents from Poland, New Zealand, Canada and Czechoslovakia. The Doncaster monument will bear the names of all combatants and there will an educational facility to further tell their story.
The need for such memorials is greater than ever as sadly 80 per centof school children surveyed in a recent poll thought the Battle of Britain was a talent show, and in another only 30 per cent could name Winston Churchill as our wartime leader.
Other answers included King Alfred and Margaret Thatcher. It is therefore vital that this new monument in Doncaster tells the story of the ‘Few’ and their fight against fascism.
We have a duty to future generations to ensure we continue to remember the lessons of past conflicts.
Once again, across Doncaster, ceremonies of remembrance, and the observance of two minutes silence in shops, show the importance of still recognising what we all owe to the bravest among us.
Remembrance offers a short and essential period of reflection. A pause in our busy lives as we go about enjoying the very freedoms that so many fought for and paid for with the highest cost.
*Donations can be made to Northern Battle of Britain Monument Appeal at South Yorkshire Air Museum, Airborne Road, Dakota Way, Doncaster, DN4 7FB