WWI – some reflections from DT Dragon

D.T. Dragon is, in her own words, an eccentrically English cat slave who lives under castle ruins in the Midlands. She says:

My Dad loved poppies. When one set itself in our garden, he wouldn’t move it – he planned the garden around it. He had the fabulous knack of dying of November 11th. He would have been 70 this year.

My Dad was born during WWII and had a lifelong fascination with military machinery from that era. He grew up on rationing. He was the first year for which conscription at 18 was voluntary rather than compulsory. He was content to watch The World At War on Yesterday rather than see it in real time. The flickering black and white images show what was happening all around the world on battlefields at a time his family home was being shook by air raids.

What historical war programmes rarely show you is home life during conflicts. Are we ashamed to look at our society in that era? Would be perhaps question if our way of life was worth killing and dying for? Why do we always have money for great war machines, but not enough to make sure everyone is fed and has a roof over their head? This is a contemporary question, as well as a historical one. Maybe if we defined history by times of peace, we wouldn’t have so many wars.

Today, food banks have increased demand. Today, homelessness has increased, especially for the young. And we have just spent a small fortune to fight a war that doesn’t threaten our land. Austerity only applies to the poor, not those that profit from war. In a way, I’m glad my Dad isn’t here to see the UK regress to a point worse than when he grew up – a privatised NHS; cut services to the disabled. It’s more like 1914 than the 21st century. WWI wasn’t the war to end all wars. It’s those that are left behind that have to pick up the pieces. Like the poppy which grows after a big shake up, we hope to build a better future.

Coming soon: Keeping Mum

1917. Ration book in hand, young Thomas goes to the local butchers for his portion under the hungry gaze of street kids. His Mum needs extra meat to fight her disease, her illness made worse by Dad not coming home from the war. Everyone questions why he’s not fighting for his country, and why he always looks so muscular. Everyone thinks his Mum is sleeping with the butcher and taking meat meant for other people. But Thomas is keeping mum.

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