SETTING THE SCENE
Across the world nations which were involved in the First World War are making plans to mark the Centenary of the conflict, beginning in 2014 and culminating on the 11th November 2018, the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which brought it to an end.
As the clock continues to count down to 2014, it is becoming clear that the scale and scope of these plans are extremely varied. Even with continued economic difficulties in many countries, considerable sums of money are being commited to fund Centenary-related projects. Collecting artefacts and photographs locally, academic studies into different aspects of the war, high-tech "mapping" projects, re-creating trenches and even searching for sunken submarines are just some of the projects under way. Add to these the proposed films, documentaries, theatre productions and the plethora of books which are in the pipeline and it soon becomes obvious that between 2014 and 2018 Centenary-related material will be difficult to avoid.
AND YET FOR MOST OF US THE ONLY TANGIBLE LINK
TO THOSE DARK AND TRAGIC YEARS WILL REMAIN OUR
LOCAL WAR MEMORIAL.
Recently war memorials have sometimes been in the news for the wrong reasons; abuse of these revered structures - including thefts of plaques and statues - have placed them in the media spotlight and forced our attention upon them more than might otherwise have been the case.
But two more stealthy criminals are also at work; Mother Nature and Father Time. Biological growth on stonework and water ingress on metalwork are just two unavoidable natural processes which, taking place over decades, conspire to make war memorials at best unsightly, at worst, unsafe. The question now is:
WHAT DOES TODAY'S SOCIETY WANT
TO DO WITH ITS WAR MEMORIALS?