YEP Says: Remembrance Sunday, a time to reflect on the past but look to our future in Europe

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Today is dedicated to the men, and women, who risked or gave their lives in the First World War.

So much has been written, from poets and politicians, historians and humanitarians, that fresh words are hard to find.

This weekend will be a time of reflection for many, not just thinking about those who lost their lives in that conflict, but in conflicts since then. Alas this did not turn out to be “The War to end all Wars”.

It is the magnitude of the loss of life, and the manner of those deaths, that makes the First World War so staggeringly brutal. As every village and town marks Remembrance Sunday they will lay wreaths at war memorials which bear the names of the sons and fathers of that village or town.

But even that does not begin to convey the huge numbers of people killed.

The War Graves Commission has the total number of people killed during WW1 from Yorkshire regiments, almost 39,000. Of course not all of those would necessarily have been from our county, but if we could bring of them back to stand shoulder to shoulder they would fill the stands at Elland Road and then some.

Tens of thousands more were injured, some horrifically, and all of them must have borne the mental scars for the rest of their lives.

One hundred years ago though, as those losses were being counted, there were tears of joy alongside those of grief. As the editor of this paper wrote at the time: “It is rather a time for sober joy and thanksgiving. The war is over.

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.”

We too stand on the brink of a new Europe, one in which we do not quite know what our place and our part will be.

Whatever happens in our deal with the rest of our European cousins we should agree that whatever our differences talking about them is better than fighting over them.

The rhetoric about immigration, in Europe and the US, the talk of building walls and strengthening borders needs careful thought.

Remembrance Sunday is not there to glorify and celebrate the loss of life, but to reflect on the blood and the mud, the pain, the grief and the sacrifice, and surely also to remember why it happened in the first place. We are leaving the EU, not Europe.

And as Jo Cox said, we have more in common than that which divides us.