How long is it appropriate to memorialize an important event? How long, more specifically, is it appropriate to memorialize Britain's role in defeating Nazism and the people who fought to achieve this? I ask because it is the Guardian's view that '2012 is far too late to be building memorials to those involved in a war that ended nearly 70 years ago'. And it isn't just because I disagree with this view that I draw attention to it. I'd like to know the methodology of arriving at a correct answer; yet how the Guardian gets there we aren't really told. A war to rescue Europe from a political and social system of quite spectacular iniquity - what is that worth in the way of persistent memory? If not 70 years, what? Just 65? Less? 50? I'd say, for my part, that it doesn't matter how long we choose to remember 1939-1945. It was a hard-won victory over moral barbarism, and what can be the harm in not forgetting it?
Here, the Guardian leader under discussion offers the only thing that might stand in for the hint of an argument. This is that continued memorialization of Britain's role in the Second World War is an 'aggrandising of conflict [which] misrepresents and diminishes the truth'. Why so? Because 'many in Britain went to the front with the hope of rebuilding their country as a fairer society'; and their memorial 'is the NHS, social welfare and free education'. First of all, to memorialize the significance of the victory in WWII does not - not by so much as a blue paper clip - diminish the importance of other crucial goals related to social justice; if anything, the opposite. And, second, the 'aggrandising of conflict' strikes an anti-war note that could not be more wrong-headed in this context. The war against Nazi Germany was as necessary and as justified as any there has been, and one may celebrate the victory in it for as many years as one wants without licensing any aggrandizement of war just as such.