Blogger: GemSen In an upcoming Radio Times article, Jeremy Paxman has apparently criticised David Cameron for comparing the WWI commemorations to the Diamond Jubilee. Paxman was referring to a speech Cameron made last year, at the Imperial War Museum about providing ‘a truly national commemoration’, to mark the 100 year anniversary. Apparently, in the speech, Mr Cameron stated he wanted: “a commemoration that, like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations this year, says something about who we are as a people”. Questioning the PM’s choice of vocabulary, Paxman, whose great uncle died in the War, said: “The commemorations should have almost nothing in common with the Diamond Jubilee, which was an excuse for a knees-up in the rain to celebrate the happy fact that our national identity is expressed through a family rather than some politician.” The Newsnight presenter believes that the Great War should be remembered as a disaster and not a celebration.
This strong opinion from Paxman concerning the WWI commemorations, comes not long after Author, Sebastian Faulks criticised Britain for not doing enough to recognise WWI veterans when they were alive and could appreciate it. And according to Paxman there are others who are anxious about the planned centenary events: “A number of distinguished fellow citizens, like the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and the thoughtful musician Brian Eno, are worried the events will turn into a “celebration” of war. Only a moron would celebrate war.” “The war was a disaster which brought stress and grief to most families in the land: there were postboys who gave up their jobs because they couldn’t face the sight of another mother answering the door and breaking down on receiving the telegram with the awful news their son was dead,” said Paxman in this week’s Radio Times. He added: ‘Our Prime Minister promised the First World War commemoration would be “like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. What on earth was he talking about?” Paxman said: "Not to recognise that it was one of the most consequential events in our history would just be perverse." Mr Cameron, in his speech last year, used the speech to announce that more than £50m has been allocated for a "historic" commemoration of World War I and said the centenary would be a ‘personal priority’ — promising the IWM museum £5million. I can see why there is some building concern around the tone of the impending commemorations — this is a serious and sensitive subject and it’s important to remember the fallen with respect and admiration. We need to pay tribute to the bravery and devotion of WWI soldiers and understand and reflect on what they really went through fighting for their country – often fighting in appalling trench conditions, with very little personal protection from enemy fire and gas attacks. What do you think? Do you agree with Paxman? Are you concerned about how the WWI centenary will be commemorated? Remembering the bloodshed and terrors of WWI Fought mostly by soldiers in trenches, World War I took over Europe from 1914 to 1919 and was a bloody war that resulted in huge losses of life seeing an estimated 10 million military deaths and another 20 million wounded. Not many of us can really bear to think about what it was like to live in a dark and wet trench among the shelling, mud, stench, disease, rats and lice. Life there must have been truly awful and for that reason, the trench warfare as experienced in WWI is something that all participating countries vowed never to repeat. WWI officially ended with the signing of The Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919. In just over a month’s time on 11 November, it will be Remembrance Day, which recalls the end of hostilities of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. On this date the battlefield fell silent on the Western Front after more than four years of warfare. Do you know enough about your WWI military ancestors? War touches many people’s lives. Is your family’s military history waiting to be discovered? Is there a war hero in your family waiting to be remembered? Did any members of your family get awarded medals for their actions in war? Perhaps they did, but you just haven’t found out about it yet…Why not search the Forces War Records site and take a look at the wealth of records and historic documents the company holds. Let us help you start, or continue your family history quest… Source: Daily Mail