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My Favourite Planet > Blogs > Edwin Drood's Column > May 2014
back Edwin Drood's Column
13 May 2014
Dulce et decorum at the Mysterious Edwin Drood's Column
Edwin is once again astonished at the shortness of our memories and the disrespectful way we bequeath the rancour of a grievance across generations yet fail to transmit gratitude where it is due.


My dad and his mates and their mates too, together with a very serious number of Americans, a lot of Australians and some New Zealanders together prevented their sceptered isle, their precious stone set in the silver sea from being overrun by a hoard of thugs who would have made Attila look like a milk-maid and left Goethe and Beethoven spinning in their graves. When it was all done and dusted they went off and did the sort of serious stuff that men and women do after conflict: they built houses, schools, roads, bridges, factories, hospitals, trains and boats and planes and cars and, all in all, a better world.

The world we’re living in now, for all its many imperfections, faults and scandals, plots and conspiracies, let downs and fuck-ups is a whole lot better than the one they were born into and a thousand times better than the one their enemies planned for them, however nostalgic it all may seem in the panoramic hindsight granted by films like Gosford Park, Atonement, The King’s Speech or the jerky, stick-man motions and barking voice-overs of old newsreels. Every year thereafter this band of warriors would come together in early May to give thanks for what they had been able to achieve in war and in peace.

Our generation of baby boomers and those who have come after can have absolutely no real inkling of the sheer horror of Adolf Hitler’s vision for Europe and the wider world. Trust me, it is not a thing any of us can really get our heads around. Just try imagining living in a permanent state of persecution. Slavery, grinding poverty, strict racial partition and constant surveillance being the main features of a society held together entirely by existential terror. Fear of arbitrary arrest, loss of those you love, pain and public humiliation would be your daily diet, with only the most dishonourable death imaginable as the sole exit. Now imagine that going on for a thousand years.

If the United States had not entered the war on the right side (and there was a time when that choice hung in the balance), Hitler’s hideous vision would have become inevitable reality. And a European continent, with all its fabulous wealth and expertise serving the Nazi war machine, would have rendered that machine unstoppable. Hitler could have extended his domination across Africa with the help of his southern allies, across Asia with the assistance of his Prussian-schooled Japanese Generals and, yes, even across both the Americas, where enough politically powerful sympathizers could always be found to make a noble cause out of his disgusting fetish for power.

As another Victory in Europe Day passed with little sound and few trumpets, I wondered whether these nations really deserved to be liberated through an enormous sacrifice in suffering and lives by a distant nation they now spend most of their time criticising. True, the Americans set the post war order up in the way they best understood it and in their own interests. That was as short-sighted as it was understandable. True, they have since failed miserably to project their vision to the rest of the world. That is tragic and shows a lack of commitment to the ideals they are ostensibly promoting *. True, America has lost respect through heavy handedness, overt and covert big-brotherliness, as well as decades of botched and inconsistent policies. However, none of this will ever eradicate the super-human history of their victory and the sustained investment that it required at all levels and on all fronts. If those who flippantly compare the CIA to the Gestapo in the comments section under online articles and videos were to live for just a week with the latter, they would very quickly learn the difference.

© Edwin Drood, May 2014

* The rhetoric of peace and democracy sounds best in the mouths of those who truly practise both: Finns, Icelanders or Norwegians are more convincing ambassadors. To understand this better, it is worthwhile visiting:

Illustration: Sacrifice by © David John
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