Friday 11 November 2011

Remembrance in Broken Barnet

Last month there was a story in the local press about an admirable woman called Catherine Loveday, who has been campaigning for some time for the restoration of war memorials in Barnet, and is now trying to do the same for those in Hendon and Edgware.

If you have ever visited one of the many war grave cemeteries in Northen France, you will have been struck by the degree of care and meticulous maintenance that is extended to the preservation of these burial places, even the tiniest ones, such as that shown above, Haspres Coppice, near Cambrai, the cemetery where one of my great uncles is buried. Such places are always treated with touching reverence by the communities in which they are situated, even today, with regular commemorative services attended by local people, as well as visitors from the UK.

Frankly, I think is is a shameful indictment of the prevailing lack of respect for our heritage in this borough that any of our war memorials should have been so neglected and allowed to deteriorate to this extent, and I hope that more support will be given to the preservation of these monuments.

I would like to think that our council would become more supportive of these and other local features of our common past, but sadly the current administration is only interested in divesting itself of the burden of responsibility for such things - and respect for the dead is not something that is to be expected from the easycouncil which so easily sells off cemeteries as a 'sweetener' to entice the jaded appetites of private companies on the prowl for public sector business.

Our memorials are not only historic monuments and social documents, they are a reminder of the debt we owe to our armed forces, past and present, and we do not have the right to forget the reason for their existence, even if those wars seem very distant now, and have been replaced, with a horrible inevitability, by new conflicts, and a new and ever increasing loss of life.

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Mr Mustard said...

Very well said Mrs Angry. The cost of maintaining war memorials { met by us all out of taxes in respect of Commonwealth War Graves, and which are very well respected by locals in France & Belgium - Mr Mustard has visited many, large & small, in those countries } is a tiny sum which Barnet Council could easily find in their budget if they only looked and cut some frippery.

Mrs Angry said...

Yes, I'm afraid that the way in which we honour the dead - or not - and preserve our heritage reflects the values of our materialistic local authority. Cemeteries, parks, museums: how much are they worth? Richard Cornelius told us the contents of the Church Farmhouse museum have no value, if you recall. Like all cultural revolutions in totalitarian regimes, One Barnet has no history, and time starts again at year zero.