We seem to be moving towards a Remembrance Season rather than a Remembrance Day. This year it covered a four day period, with Armistice Day itself on Thursday and Remembrance Sunday yesterday. In between my next door town of Morley held its own "Festival of Remembrance" on the Friday evening (at which the Choral Society to which I belong was invited to sing) and the national "Festival" followed on the Saturday evening in the Albert Hall.
In my view spreading out the period reduces its impact and poignancy. The Guardian reported that many parts of the country fell silent at 11am on Thursday the 11th, though nothing much seemed to happen, or rather stop happening, here. Then on Sunday, still the "official" silence, those who had already made their observation could be excused for carrying on as normal. We need to make up our minds on which day the silence is to be and then join forces to encourage its observance.
We also need to think about the name. My dictionary defines a festival as "festal day,celebration, merry-making." There is absolutely nothing to "make merry" about millions of young people sent to be slaughtered and millions of families bombed out of their homes because politicians have failed in their diplomacy. The best alternative I can think of is a an "Observance" though I admit it does not pack much punch. The observance, for want of a better name, should have no martial music, uniforms, medals and marching in step, all designed to sanitise and glorify war, but should involve depictions of refugees feeling their homes, soldiers dying in agony,the mutilated struggling with their futures - to remind us that war is not noble but horrible.
Finally, there seem to be subtle moves to use Remembrance to justify present wars and drum up support for them. Of course it is right that those killed in conflicts since 1945 should be included in our thoughts, that we should mourn their loss and offer sympathy and support to their families, but we need to be careful to separate these feelings from actual support of all the conflicts in which they have been involved.