Yesterday, I took my father who is nearly 91 to see a World War Two travelling museum. It was amazing how quickly his memories of his own wartime experiences soon came to the surface. His time in the local Home Guard before joining the RAF as ground crew and going out East. He handled guns similar to the ones that he had used all those years ago and kept the proprietor of the museum amused with his experiences.
In a few years, like WW1, there won’t be anyone left who remembers the horrors of war and this is why the proprietor of the museum also takes his travelling museum into schools. He feel it is important to give children the context – to let them understand that the uinforms were scratchy, the guns heavy, that life for families was hard with food rationing and bombs. It makes it a lot more real than the ‘reality’ of computer games. He showed us a letter that he had received from a parent of a child whose school he had visited. She thanked him because his talk had made her son have a lot more respect for soldiers and death. His talk had shown him that war was not a game.
An interesting debate maybe – but i think that it is vitally important for today’s children to understand war, the reality of war and the horror of war. Then, maybe, they will never have to fight in another.