Without entirely giving away my age, I'm two generations away from my family members who served and fought in WWII. One was in the WAAF, one was a Desert Rat, and one was a British soldier billeted with the French Resistance. The latter saw D-Day take place first-hand, and was haunted by the experience for the rest of his life.
I have learned a lot from the experiences they have relayed to me, and I still find myself overwhelmed when contemplating the sheer loss of life. Maybe I'm a wimp, but I just cannot picture myself dealing with the perils of war. The bravery involved in simply being part of such a conflict is something that I often feel is beyond me.
All those relatives are now deceased, though they all survived the war and lived to old age. But I have often pondered the fact that, knowing them as I did, they appear to have felt exactly the same way as I did before they were involved in the war. Those who served spent most of their time terrified, exhausted and surrounded by horrors few of us can contemplate. So as we honour and pay tribute the courage, the bravery and the sacrifices made by those who fought and died, I also think it is vital to remember them as people - as fellow human beings and not as simplified archetypes. In many ways that makes what they did even more astonishing, and is also why they must never be forgotten.
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