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WAR AND PEACE - AND GREAT UNCLE GORDON

03-05-2007

With the local elections today, the Stirrer trusts that every reader will do their civic duty. But just in case you're thinking of voting for the apathy party, read this by Andy Goff.

May 3rd is something of an eventful day this year.

Not only is it my nieces birthday and local election polling day, it also happens to be the anniversary of the death of my Great Uncle Gordon.

Sapper Gordon Dakin

He was killed 90 years ago at the age of 20, a sapper in the 20th Light Railway Train Crew Coy of the Royal Engineers. He was apparently driving a munitions train and was hit by a shell. His grave is in Bully-Grenay communal cemetery near Arras - a Lutyens classic. I’ve been to visit a couple of times and, as with war graves all over the world, it is a moving experience.

The First War is, of course, still in progress, an extension of the war in 1870 - the war in Bosnia, the Middle East - from Iraq to Israel - foundering on Imperial map making - even Ireland’s partition was an expedient fudge at a time of crisis.

The Armistice of 1918 marked the beginning of the end for the British Empire and the start of the rise of America as a world power.

So today I shall ring Emma and wish her happy birthday, go and vote and, through thinking about Great Uncle Gordon, I shall remember why we vote in democratic elections - so that our tiny individual voices, even in local elections, can be heard collectively by those that make decisions on our behalf about war and peace. Sometimes they listen.

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