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.