I can't remember when it began. This fascination with war. Yet, throughout my life, my imagination has been gripped by stories of human conflict. The interest may have begun one Sunday afternoon in front of the fire where I would often sit and watch old movies, it may have been from a book I picked up at the library or perhaps even from the knowledge that my father had served in the Royal Navy during The Second World War. But years on, having read countless war stories, watched numerous films and having studied history I am still just as fascinated by what is the most abhorrent of subjects.
For it is truly a repugnant subject. And the fact that so many wars appear to be have been wrongly waged makes it even more distasteful. Decimation, subjugation, bloody death, the murder of innocents - as a race our violence often has no limitations. At times we are no better than squabbling animals fighting over living space. Sadly, I think it is unlikely we will ever progress beyond those issues that cause us to wage war - perhaps the best we can hope for is that we fight on the side of justice and humanity. But, of course, who decides what is just and humane is always a question for debate.
Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday here in the UK. Inevitably, I find myself watching the televised events held in honour of our fallen countrymen. As ex servicemen and women march stoically along the streets, often in their advanced years, I can't help but feel great sadness for the loss of so many men, women and children, all over the world, in the pursuit of war.
I wonder- if it were possible to total up the lives lost through war since mankind became "civilized" - how many would it be? With over 60 million deaths during WWII alone it must be an almost inconceivable number.
Of course, one of the most horrific events, which has had the most extraordinary impact in modern times, was the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Even my mother, as a young child during WWII, recalled the great sadness and shock that pervaded Britain when news of the events broke. I'm not going to even try and condemn or justify the action of the United States - all that needs to be said here is it that it happened and ultimately it was an important lesson for humanity. One which we should never forget.
However, as yesterday was Remembrance Sunday, I started thinking about songs about war. One that came to mind was by a band I particularly liked during the 1980s. They were called Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) and their song was titled Enola Gay. ( If you are unfamiliar with the name Enola Gay- it was the name of the B29 bomber used to drop Little Boy on Hiroshima on the 6th August 1945.) The music of OMD was very typical of the synthesized electric pop of the 1980s and Enola Gay had a particularly catchy tune which is one of the reasons I remember it so well.
One of the great things about music is that it is has the power to be universal. I like the image that all over the world, at any given time, thousands of people may be tapping their feet to the same beat.
It's a comforting thought don't you think?
Here's a short war story I wrote a while ago.