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As you dance with your dwindling peers, how many of them remember the bombs fell? The ability to forget the past seems to be a survival skill as much as it is an ensurer of repeating the mistakes of the past. We have our new hobgoblin this month and the mouthpieces send out sincere messages of fear. I listened to the message and looked around. I tend towards ignoring such bellowing because it has been wrong so many times. I do still mutter this every week with my son and his fellows, reminded of my obligations. No bombs have fallen, but there is a little more rice, beans and flour in my house just in case the virtual bombs of the FUD happens. It doesn't take a complete disruption in our Just In Time economy to cause shortages to show up.
Those falling bombs have to make exquisite borders to your discussions of epidemiology and climate. Imminent death in the form of High Explosive Devices and Napalm vs fending off the long drawn out malignancies of vice, learned at the feet of people patiently waiting in tunnels for the all clear to sound. Those stories aren't shared much anymore. The generation is disappearing. Fewer and fewer folks have been subjected to the terror of whistling death (although IIRC, hearing the whistle was a good sign you weren't going to die).
Somehow the memories have to be carried forward...
"Somehow the memories have to be carried forward..."
You definitely don't have to worry about that Brad. One of the impressions I've formed of the UK during my lifetime is that it is the world's keenest country on data collection and documentation. I'm pretty sure there will be tons of archive material that has been collected on bombs dropped on Britain in World War II sitting in various museums.
I did a bit of Googling and it looks like a large amount of archive material for bombs dropped during the 1940-41 'Blitz' has been put online on a site with the URL www.bombsight.org. This news article from 2012 gives an idea what is on the site:
JEB's piece is talking about another wave of bombing of London, the V-1 flying bombs, but I'm pretty sure that will be as well documented as the Blitz.
The British enthusiasm for collecting data sometimes gets some of its citizens into trouble when they travel abroad. There was an amusing incident in 2002 where 12 Brits (and also 2 Dutchmen) were jailed for 'plane spotting' in Greece:
The Greeks basically couldn't get their heads around the idea of somebody pursuing a boring data collection hobby like plane spotting, and assumed they had to be spies. As I remember it, after some diplomatic intervention the plane spotters were released after a few weeks.
The British enthusiasm for collecting data may explain the unusual factoid that the UK (along with the Netherlands) has the world's highest number of tornado weather events per unit area, though virtually all the tornado events are pretty feeble. My explanation for that would be that the UK is a densely populated country and has high numbers of data collectors who would be on the lookout for such events. The Netherlands is another densely-populated data collecting country, so a similar number of events get observed there.
My children have never heard a bomb meant to harm. There are explosions next door associated with the operation of a gravel pit. There is the rumble of the train going between the Ship Yard and the Submarine Base. There is a yearly roar of speed boats racing on the neighboring lake. There are the bombs in mid air that approximate Guy Fawkes. We only read about and watch news events of things more dire. They don't strike home as much because the relative number of people in battle is so tiny. When those bombs were falling in Britain, there was not a person on the island who didn't know someone affected or dead. In the ensuing conflict, there was no one on my island who didn't have a loved one or friend affected (continents are really big islands right?).
We attempt to enshrine these moments to keep the memories of the past alive so that our children don't make the mistakes again. It works a little. It is better than not having them. But the memories are easily twisted.
I am opposed to most rituals. That is the result of me thinking too much about them. I am starting to realize that some of those rituals have really really good reasons that are only made clear through attempting to avoid them. The rights of "manhood" seem silly until you face explaining responsibility, authority, action and inaction to a person transitioning from childhood to adult. Those rights are a just a line in the sand where we hand our children their swords and say "You are responsible for your own actions now, the consequences no longer devolve to your parents! Use it well. Use it wisely. You will make mistakes. Learn from them. Accept them and move on. I am still here to help, but you have what you need to survive!"
The memories can't just be in the archives. We hope to never reinvent though either. We can't be so horrified at the consequence of war that we fail to fight when necessary. We can't be so immune to the carnage that our hearts aren't torn. The stiff upper lip of the English is the expression of the place in between. The soldier who stands his ground but slips chocolate bars to kids attempts the same. How do we keep the balance, without slipping towards the liberal tangle. Not remembering the terror makes tomorrow easier to face. Not remembering also makes it easier to paint people like me as the cause of the terror. My lip isn't as stiff as it should be. I hug my kids too much. I kiss my wife whenever the opportunity presents. Tomorrow may be different.