Saturday, August 25, 2012

Victors forget, Vanquish remember.

I recently caught an episode of Paul Merton in Europe where he visited around in Ireland.  One stop was in Duncannon where the locals conduct a reenactment of a battle between the British and Nazi forces.  As I listened to Merton's narration, I realized he had just perhaps unintentionally presented a great truth about war:  Victors forget, the Vanquished remember.  As he filmed the reenactment, he remarked that the British uniform caused greater controversy than the Nazi uniform; in fact, he stated he felt safer riding around with Nazis actors than those in British uniforms.

How telling!  The military reenactment held at Duncannon Fort in Wexford County is in southern Ireland.  Outside of immigrants from the Emerald Isle and a few history buffs, few Americans are aware of the view that a cultural genocide against the Irish was waged by the British.  Not withstanding a recent resurgence, Gaelic unfortunately has seemed to go the way of Latin as a spoken language since the English-only requirement imposed on the Irish school system.  This is all the stuff of history books and yet, as Paul Merton discovered, the resentment towards the British remains in segments of the Irish population in the 21st Century.

Over the years, various "Yankee" friends have often remarked with scorn how we Southerners view the Civil War.  "Get over it, already!" is the frequent refrain.  I'm not talking about the political right or wrong of the war - that's for another discussion.  I am talking about the significant cultural impact which occurred in the South from the War of Northern Aggression and the resentment towards northerners that remains (especially when your IQ is accounted to be 30 points lower as soon as your accent is heard!).

This idea of losing sides remembering long after victors have forgotten is something we as Americans need to always remember as our armed forces are scattered around the world - especially in the Middle East arena.

We are aligned with victors.  We are fighting their vanquished.

We have forgotten.  They have not.

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