The Bible is big on remembering. A theme of the Hebrew scriptures, what Christians call the Old Testament, is the assumption that if things have gone badly people must have neglected the Law. And vice versa.
In a shorter piece called 'History Lesson' the poet Steve Turner wrote:
History repeats itself.
This week we move clumsily from one piece of recall:
Remember, remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
Are we listening to history?
My Dad joined the RAF in 1941 aged 17. He could fly before he could drive. He flew Wellington bombers and Dakota passenger transporters. His emotional relationship with Remembrance Sunday was complicated. I never sussed it. My family didn't do conversations about feelings.
I reckon he missed his mates who died, dealt with the trauma of war by forgetting and forced himself to watch the wreath-laying service from the Cenotaph every year. He behaved disrespectfully to any wreath-layers who hadn't served as he did. And he had no time for anyone who voiced the idea that they were showing more respect than others.
I wonder what he would have made of the recent tendency to make art of poppy installations.
Strangely, it has become my job to try to articulate the complex emotions of remembrance. What is the lesson of history that we need to learn? Before we even think about telling someone off for not wearing a poppy let us take time to be silent.
In fact two minutes quiet to stop and think might be a great way to respond to anything we disagree with.