Footsteps team visits National Memorial Arboretum (U.K)

During the last week, over two separate days, Footsteps members Rainer, Simone and Simon, accompanied by our partner Thea Haimovitz-Kabbalah and other friends, visited the U.K’s National Memorial Arboretum at Arlewas in central England. This is a vast complex covering some 61 hectares in the National Forest. The main memorial commemorates British military personnel who have died in combat since the end of the Second World War. The rest of the site is too big to see in one day. There are memorials to British, Commonwealth and Allied forces from the First World War up to the present day. There are also memorials to fallen police officers, ambulance and fire services, veterinarians, entertainers and many others who died and served during times of conflict. A memorial to the Far East campaign vividly depicts the brutality of the war against Japan, the dreadful conditions of slave labour, torture, suffering and murder, the starvation and the death marches.
The Arboretum and all the memorials displayed does not glorify war. It provides a place of quiet, respectful and peaceful remembrance where loved ones can reflect on lost relatives, and visitors can contemplate the inhumanity and occasional necessity of war. All of the memorials – large and small – are impressive, but one in particular moved us all greatly. It is called Shot at Dawn. It commemorates those British and Commonwealth soldiers – often aged only 17 or 18 – who were executed in the First World War for the ‘crime’ of being terrified, mentally or physically unwell, or merely just unable to fight. The main statue is a blindfolded soldier about to be shot. His face vividly depicts his fear. He is surrounded by wooden posts, each of which has the name and personal details of comrades who were also executed in this brutal way. Shockingly, it was not until 2006 – ninety years after the War – that these men were posthumously pardoned. For all those years until then, they were viewed as criminals.

 

Writings: Simon Bell


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Vicki
7 months ago

Well, I hate to say it but America was trying to stay OUT of WWII when we were suddenly attacked from nowhere on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.
If my mom hadn't been born 3 weeks earlier, I probably never would have known my grandfather and she never would've known her dad bc my grandpa was on a Family visit from Pearl Harbor, where he was stationed in the Navy.
Even though nothing happened to him, this has always felt personal to me. He was on one of the two ships that were attacked. Nobody knows if he would have died, and my mom's birth probably saved his life.

But I don't understand why Obama could make peace with the Japanese (and get a Nobel prize for it) but forget to say anything about the bombing of Dresden that killed 2 members of my fiance's family. One was his biological Oma; the other was his aunt, who was 5 weeks old when it happened on Valentine's Day.
Ever since I've been with him, he's always spent Valentines Day at HeideFriedhof in Dresden, where they have a memorial for all the people who died in the bombing of Dresden from February 13 - 15.

I think his WWII story is more tragic than most people's.

I also think H.G. Wells was right: "If we don't end war, war will end us."

The words on the memorial for my fiance's family and the res who died there:

Wieviele starben? Wer kennt die Zahl? An deinen Wunden sieht man die Qual der Namenlosen, die hier verbrannt im Höllenfeuer aus Menschenhand. / dem Gedenken der Opfer des Luftangriffs auf Dresden am 13.-14. Februar 1945

I attended the memorial with him this year via video equipment on my computer.