Letter: War dead who reject the silence

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The Independent Online
Sir: James Seymour's unease about a permanent two-minute silence on Armistice Day (letter, 15 November) may well be shared by millions, including - in absentia - many of those who died.

On my way to this country in 1943 with several hundred other trained aircrew, a dozen or so of us used to meet in one of the troopship's lifeboats after lunch, to play cards and discuss various matters. One was whether or not we wished our whole nation to come to a stop for two minutes each year on the date the previous war had ended, in order to remember those of us who would not survive the present one.

One person was wholly in favour of the two-minutes' silence. The rest of us came to the consensus that it might be all right for a decade or two after the war, if most people wished it, but that we would all much prefer that the survivors and their relatives devoted at least some of their time each year to a concerted effort in trying to understand why wars broke out, and in what way they could be prevented - a positive outlook.

As one of the very few survivors of our little group, I feel I would be dishonouring the memory of those who "got the chop" if I were now to support the very thing they did not want. It gave me an unpleasant feeling when I saw on television a British policeman compulsorily hold up a line of traffic for this year's two-minute silence. The regimented nature of the two-minute silence at this late date reminds me a bit too much of the kind of regimentation that we were all fighting against, though I quite understand the noble thought behind it.