100 years ago today Britain declared war on Germany and entered the First World War. By the time it ended in 1918, 16 million people had died.
My grandfather, George Scott, served as a soldier in this horrific war. He died when I was six, and I have only one recollection of him – in the passenger seat of my father’s car as he was dropped off outside his Edinburgh home before we returned to Dundee. I was in the back of the car.
Nearly every family in this country knows of at least one relative who served in the ‘Great War’. Many died or were badly wounded. Many were traumatised by their awful experiences. Those who returned home to their families had given up years of their lives to fighting in a war.
They did what they thought was right. As did our allies. As did those fighting for our ‘enemies’. Let’s remember today all those who were involved in the First World War, whatever their nationality.
Today there is no place for triumphalism of one particular country or group of nations. Today is a day for reflection on the horrors of war.
We need to learn from the past. War is rarely, if ever, justified. We need to find peaceful solutions to problems.
As we think of the 1914-18 war, we see daily on our television screens the death and destruction still being meted out in 2014. And all too often children and other civilians are the victims.
When will we ever learn?