Lest we forget, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the war that shaped the 20th century. The first of three world wars (two hot and one cold), this conflict is remembered once a year as a lesson in human suffering, as a reminder that the war to end all wars was only the beginning of the human cost of the past century.
We should reflect on the causes and how to prevent a repeat of the massive, inhumane loss of life that the 'Great War' brought about. We should be doing that regardless of whether the number of years can make the graphics look pretty. But there are so many other conflicts that need documentaries made about them.
As the British government seeks to ensure that centenary activities fully mark the contribution of Empire and Commonwealth soldiers, can it find common ground to reflect Australian and Canadian pride in the birth of a nation, Indian and Pakistani concerns about getting the form of recognition right, and South African scepticism about the contemporary relevance of a conflict fought between long lost Empires?
Just like the courtesy of learning a few words of the language, for someone from the UK travelling to countries with different memories of WWI than ours, learning a little more about the scale and legacy of this truly global conflict can be invaluable in effectively navigating and building relationships of trust.
My granddad died a year ago. We've been clearing out his papers. Like so many men of his generation (he was born in 1921), his early adult life was cut around the events of the Second World War. And, like many of his generation, his was not the first experience of war-service in the family. Amongst the papers he left, we also came across documents and letters about his own father's service in what became the First World War...
My Grandfather tragically lost his friend on the battlefield and suffered from depression for the rest of his life, which rendered him unable to speak for the days surrounding 11 November. My Great Uncle was severely, severely shell shocked and as an additional complication, the PTSD triggered psychotic episodes during which there was an attempt to break into Buckingham Palace.
All of us have a visceral, emotional reaction to the use of chemical weapons. It repulses us... Yet there's a question that must be asked: why are we more offended by the killing of civilians with chemical weapons than we are by the slaughter of far greater numbers of civilians with conventional weapons?
At present two children from every state secondary school in England from spring until March 2019 will be given the opportunity to visit First World War battlefields. But it is our hope too that children of primary school age will be able, in their own way and suited to their needs, share in that witness as well.
Like smoke drifting across no man's land as the sound of the guns and the mortar finally fell quiet, the Christmas truce of 1914 has been shrouded by the mists of time. A historical event which occurred early in the First World War and one many of us are familiar with; yet it has the feel and texture of legend as much as fact.
Opium poppy extracts and their chemical derivatives were and still are invaluable in relieving the suffering of the wounded. It is therefore safe to say that both the opium poppy and the red poppy, or least the artificial variety, have been employed to bring immense relief to members of the armed forces, albeit in totally different ways.