Recently, commemorations to remember Passchendaele occurred and, with the tributes commencing on the centenary of the events, this period seems to signal a poignant milestone. Harry Patch, who in 2009 became the sole survivor at Passchendaele, was amongst those who had their first-hand accounts focussed on, and his words seemed to take precedence. Yet, the commemorations perhaps had a more overarching goal as, whilst remembering those involved ultimately underpinned the entirety of the tributes, the focus may have also been on creating a universal union to live on for generations. With past decisions acting as the catalyst in laying the foundations for a more stable future, such as the creation of the EU, Passchendaele seems to serve as a reminder of how far the globe has advanced, enabling the events to be kept in memory whilst creating a more tolerant continent.
Passchendaele seems to often be remembered as a pivotal point, both in terms of ultimately contributing to shaping the conclusion of the contention whilst also leading to many innovations and precautions for future members of the army. Whilst the reasons for Haig’s advance may be justified, the consequences of his actions may be what claim the focus, with 310,000 Allied and 260,000 German troops ultimately passing. With Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Ferdinand Foch also originally opposed to the tactic, the events also seemed to signal increased influence for those in higher command, and the future ability to overrule particular decisions seemed to prove dividends in increasing safety for soldiers. This may be the reasoning behind the cultural and historical significance of the events, and in recognising the decisions made by thousands of soldiers from a smattering of European countries, it may provide a degree of closure for families who had ancestors involved.
The commemorations therefore seem to have generated a vast degree of support, with the involvement of a vast array of high status influencers perhaps further elevating the cause. Considering these influencers differing backgrounds, the events may achieve a wider reach; this may have been the primary reason for a wide range of mediums portraying the events at the dedicatory, as it may contribute to a vaster breadth of people understanding, and ultimately becoming impacted by, the events. The unity therefore showcased seems to underpin the fresh, innovative ideology showcased by Europe, and how the continent may be striving to be driven in a differing direction to the one showcased at Passchendaele, showing the advancements, which may have been made in the previous century.
Whilst many influencers involved themselves in the commemorations, perhaps the most important involvement may have been those in a political position of power, as bypassing political opinions to showcase solidarity may influence the rest of the population to replicate their actions. Theresa May seemed to be striving to pay her respects to those involved in order to showcase how their memory may take precedence over current political debates, and other politicians seemed to follow suit, with both the French Embassy the German foreign minister utilising Twitter to express their support of a safe European future. With these officials vocalising their support of cohesion, they may act as the catalyst in this ideology being implemented, and with potential unity perhaps to occur in Europe, it may lead to the rest of the globe building on these foundations.
The commemorations seem to serve to ensure the events at Passchendaele may continue to be remembered, and those involved recognised, whilst simultaneously ensuring the impact may be realised. This may enable future generations to fully recognise the importance of symbols such as the poppy, and the connotations they may have, proving the high regard for which those involved seem to be held. With nationalistic ideologies ultimately seeming to take precedence in recent times, these commemorations may prove the European population’s desire to unite together, and prioritise solidarity, with these commemorations solely serving to reiterate this desire. Ensuring the traits held in common take precedence may ultimately result in events such as Passchendaele being kept in the past, whilst simultaneously enabling it to act as the catalyst in a stable future.
How may the commemorations underpin the common European goal for unity?