Sir: It is understandable that a historian like Douglas Johnson with such a deep knowledge of contemporary France should admire the French concern for national heroes, dates and commemorations ('Always something to remind them', 14 July). But is it really true to conclude that such national rituals 'vaccinate against repetition'? Surely, the experience of Ireland, both North and South, is proof enough that the results of historical commemoration are not usually so benign. Perhaps Brecht got it right when - reflecting on his native Germany - he remarked: 'Unfortunate the country which has need of heroes.'
Fellow and Tutor in Modern
Trinity College, Oxford