This article appeared in the Rhymney Valley Express.
As has been the case for the past 11 years, I attended the Remembrance Service in Caerphilly on Remembrance Sunday. Fortunately, it was a fine, crisp winter’s day and several hundred people came to The Twyn to pay their respects to those who had given their lives in past conflicts.
In the morning I went to Nelson for the Remembrance Service in St John’s Church and then to the village memorial. Here too there was a good attendance and it seems that throughout the borough, and indeed the country, the attendance at Remembrance Services has been very good.
But sadly, every year there are inevitably fewer and fewer veterans of the Second World War in particular fit and able to attend these services. Encouragingly though, the declining number of older stalwarts has been matched by the growing number of young people who now attend.
For the past few years there have been services for school pupils organised in Caerphilly on the Friday before Remembrance Sunday. These are important and moving events, allowing young people to begin to understand why it was that so many made the ultimate sacrifice.
In 2014, the nation will commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. The Gelligaer Historical Society will be bringing out a publication to mark this date and I have been asked to contribute an article on one of my predecessors as the MP for Caerphilly, Morgan Jones.
This will be an interesting piece because Morgan Jones was a “conscientious objector” in the First World War. For his beliefs he went to prison and suffered enormous hardship. This article will not be easy to write because most people, quite understandably, will be focussing on the patriotism, bravery and sacrifice of those millions who fought for King and country. It is important to remember that Morgan Jones was not in any way critical or contemptuous of those who volunteered or were conscripted in the 1914-1918 War, but he held firmly to the view that this was a war which should not have been fought.
Given that the First World War was the bloodiest war in human history and little that was positive was achieved by it, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Morgan Jones was right. Remembering and understanding the past is seldom easy.