Colnbrook’s WWI Centenary Event … did we get it wrong?

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    Our coverage of the WWI centenary event at the Jubilee Clock on July 26 provoked angry comments from the Parish Council (of course), and also St Thomas’ itself.  Did we get it wrong?

    The new plaque mounted on the Diamond Jubilee Clock

    2% of the parish turned out for the “event of the year”, the same proportion of the population killed in the slaughter between 1914-18.

    The Colnbrook Residents Association said the event had been “tremendously successful”.  The Colnbrook Community Association and the Parish Council were in rare agreement that the article was “inappropriate” while representatives from the Church said the article was “vexatious”.

    Maybe we were wrong to criticise the ‘doubling-up’ of the Diamond Jubilee Clock as a pseudo-war memorial as if we have suddenly been carried back to a feudal age when sacrifice in a pointless war somehow adds to the glory of a monarch’s long reign?

    Maybe we were wrong to point out that its dubious funding will always make the Clock a symbol of the Parish’ willingness to take money from big polluters whose schemes are imposed on the village, rather than of a freedom hard won?

    And maybe we were wrong to suggest that 150 people sat listening to a “moving” St Thomas’ Church service was anything other than disappointing in a village where just 49% described themselves as Christian in 2011, let alone Church of England, and just 2% attend Sunday services in the diocese?

    There were many reasons why people stayed away, and maybe it was simply disinterest.   2011 was also the year in which the last combatant from the Great War died.  Maybe it has ceased to be relevant.

    But elsewhere groups, councils, and businesses put on novel and interesting events to capture the imagination of a generation who have known war largely through a TV screen.

    We have 25 years before the same commemorations may be held for the outbreak of the Second World War, one with an altogether different and clearer meaning – and one in which our national institutions, including the Church, were possibly less culpable for the slaughter.  Perhaps future organisers will follow Slough’s lead on that occasion in hosting an altogether more inclusive and symbolic centenary event.

    As always on Colnbrook Views you are welcome to disagree.  Please vote, and tell us what you think below.

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