hutch0 (hutch0) wrote,

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lest we forget...

There are now only two British survivors of World War I, Henry Allingham and Harry Patch. Henry Allingham is also Britain's oldest man, and the story of his life does kind of bring you face-to-face with how much the world has changed within a single - if unusually-long - human lifetime. Once these men are gone, the First World War will have passed out of living memory. That might sound kind of an obvious thing to say, but I work with a lad in his twenties for whom World War I occupies roughly the same misty historical location as the Boer War and the Battle Of Hastings. For those of us who are old enough to have had grandparents who fought in the conflict, it's rather more than that.
I was rather startled by part of Simon Schama's The American Future - A History which I caught on television last weekend, which showed footage of FDR making a speech at Gettysburg in 1938 or 1939, at which veterans of the battle of Gettysburg were present. We're used to an accelerating pace of change and innovation these days, but just imagine being a veteran of Gettysburg and living long enough to see the effects of Pearl Harbour or the Blitz. More had changed in their lifetimes than probably in the liftimes of their parents, their grandparents and their great-grandparents.
Incidentally, a colleague interviewed Henry Allingham earlier this week, and was rather delighted to report that "he still enjoys the rustle of a skirt."

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