For thousands of children in Syria, summer vacation is no longer about taking a break from their hectic school lives. On the contrary, with displacement and violence regularly interrupting normal classes, many children around the country used their summer break to visit school clubs and catch up on lost school days.
I'll tell you what I know about war in Ukraine, and life there. Some of you will scream "you are not there!" and that's right, I'm not in Ukraine but in France, and the war is not where I am but in Ukraine. However, as are all Ukrainians, I'm living this war too, even though I'm far away from it. It's like a long-distance relationship, and I know those very well.
When the history books come to be written, someone will doubtless compare the self-immolation of the Tunisian street-seller Mohamed Bouazizi on 17 December 2010, which sparked the wave of Arab uprisings, with the shot fired by the Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip that killed the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Each was a single act that no one could have foreseen would lead to the appalling carnage that followed. And each reshaped the world, destroying great political powers and sowing the seeds for future instability.
I do not want to sound cynical in suggesting that human life has a price. It is priceless as far as I am concerned. But this is a world that is not of my making. It operates according to rules that are sometimes quite absurd, and whether we agree or not, there is a societal consensus that human life, too, has a price.
It is clear that social media is now an indispensable part of the toolkit for anyone involved in modern conflict, but it also seems likely that its impact will help shape military tactics and decision making in the future. Political commentators occasionally refer to the 'CNN effect', where emotive TV pictures encourage governments to both enter and exit wars and humanitarian disasters.
What we need to do now is go further... to imagine, and then create, a world without war. With the hideous death-toll in Gaza, the chaos in Syria and Ukraine, the turmoil in Libya, that might seem a long way from the reality of 2014. But the important first step is to say "this is possible", and then to start to plan the actions needed to bring a peaceful world into being.
We remembered too not just those from the First World War, but all wars past and present including those serving right now in Afghanistan and other Operations around the world. And, of course, it's not just the soldiers themselves but the families that give their all in support of those brave men and women.
Countless brave birds served and died with our Allied forces. They crossed battle lines and helped influence key battle decisions by delivering vital messages. These intelligent, gentle birds were the first recipients of the Dickin Medal - animals' Victoria Cross - for contributing to the rescue of thousands of human aviators.
On 11 September 2001 and then on 7 July 2005 our outlook changed. We were struck with a level of fear and vulnerability that allowed principles that we once held dear to suddenly evaporate. In some circles torture suddenly became justified under exceptional circumstances. The war on terror emerged and the rule of law fell away.
I know what it's like to lose your childhood to war. When I was five and conflict raged in Sudan, my family and I were amongst the lucky ones to leave for Egypt. Four years later we were granted asylum in the United Kingdom. Inspired by legendary South Sudanese basketball player Manute Bol, my siblings and I took up basketball which helped us fit in. Like Manute, I was lucky enough to turn the sport I loved into a career as a professional NBA player in the United States.
During the course of my humanitarian work in Syria, I have listened to many children share their perspectives. The death of family members, whether siblings or a parent or other loved one is common. Being displaced from their homes, often more than once, and finding their friends and communities snatched away. Memories of repeated attacks from warring parties that flattened whole neighborhoods, fires that raged through the night stay with them.
Ever since the discovery on Monday of the bodies of the murdered Israeli teenagers, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, and ever since the discovery on Wednesday of the body of the Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdair, murdered apparently in revenge, I have been hearing voices in my head...
Most people are familiar with what is known as Hard Power. The idea that someone with more swords, bigger guns and overwhelming military ability can force someone to do something against their will but which is almost entirely in favour of those holding the gun. History is full of situations, the ancient Chinese, Persians, Romans all the way through to the British, French, American and Russians...
Today, faced with gloomy possibilities in Iraq that include the imminent disintegration of the Iraqi state... the Obama administration is once again considering air strikes as a policy option. And as Iraqi cities once again loom in the Imperium's bomb-sights, it's instructive to cast our eyes back on this less-than-glorious relationship between the United States, bombs and Iraq.
I'm not a big football fan either, but, as a psychologist, I'm aware that the game carries a lot more weight than may be at first apparent. In fact, I believe that the world as a whole has a great deal to thank football for, because of the social and psychological benefits it has brought over the last 100 years or so.
What folly. What crass, indescribable, unbelievable folly it was to invade Iraq in 2003. I wonder what George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair think now as they read of the latest disasters to befall that wretched land. Do they still say that Iraq is better off than it was under Saddam Hussein? Do they? Really?