War Anniversaries

The experience of learning about the Second World War in 2009, must be a little like learning about the First World War back in 1989.

The new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, ‘Outbreak‘, commemorates 70 years since the start of The Second World War. When I saw the poster on the tube this morning, it took me back 20 years to primary school, when we did a whole term’s class project on the war: gas mask boxes, rationing, evacuation, Vera Lynn, &ct.

That was for the 50th anniversary, which still seemed fairly recent. Seventy years seems a much more distant time. The experience of learning about the Second World War in 2009, must be a little like learning about the First World War back in 1989: I am reminded of Kottke’s Timeline Twins.

I note that, since the First World War lasted from 1914-19, and the Second World War from 39-45, there is never a year when we are without a x10 year anniversary for some event or other in one of those great conflicts. That’s a good thing: lest we forget. But I cannot help but wonder at what point the anniversaries start to get less attention. The Battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar only seem to raise interest on the x50 year markers; Banockburn, Bosworth Field, Naseby, The Boyne and Culloden only on the centenary.

2 thoughts on “War Anniversaries”

  1. Certainly. I think its this point which vexes me, since importance of certain battles and the sacrifices made should not be judged by how recent they occurred. Probably fighting a losing battle on this one, though.

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