What about the names not on the war memorial?
I get uneasy at war memorials not just because they remind me of the worst aspects of being human which is involvement in conflict upon conflict
I look at the list of names on a monument recording deaths in conflict from that vicinity with an inscription about sacrifice. Many named there. had no intention of sacrificing themselves. By contrast others who came back from war did hold that: ‘it is a sweet and fitting thing to die for your country’.
Sacrifice is about love and not death. It’s something from the heart which you intend but might not have to effect.
The lists of dear dead need that qualification along with John Donne’s proviso that ‘every man’s death diminishes me’.
This week’s Royal British Legion celebration of the World War One Centenary is billed as ‘saying Thank You to all who served, sacrificed and changed our world’ which distinguishes service from sacrifice.
The names on war memorials are tellingly male. Unnamed grieving spouses are also part of war’s hurt and, yes, sometimes, sacrifice where they own the cause for which their husbands died.
It is right to honour those who died in military service but as with much in life what we do or suffer is less significant than the love we put into the action.