The scope of Remembrance Sunday will be broadened this year, to include people whose exploits are too often overlooked. Bill Rogers, a spokesman for the Royal British Legion, made special mention of World of Warcraft combatants, who regularly put their virtual lives on the line. ‘They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old’, he said, in a reference to those wargamers who seem arrested in perpetual adolescence. ‘We remember the participants of other role-playing games too, especially those who selflessly assume the identity of unpopular characters with limited powers, such as dwarfs and trolls’.
As the nation prepares to honour those who have fallen in battle, Bill warmed to his theme. ‘We remember those who died in two world wars, and subsequent wars, and small, one-sided conflicts in far-away places. We remember the veterans of the Cod War, who, forty years on, cannot look at a plate of fish fingers without getting flashbacks. We remember the Falklands War, and, in particular, the fact that, until Margaret Thatcher mobilised the task force, very few politicians on either side of the house could have pointed out the Falklands on an atlas of the world. Even fewer were aware that the Falklands were British.
‘We remember those who searched for weapons of mass destruction, during the Gulf War smokescreen, even though they knew it was a wild goose chase. We remember those who took part in George Bush’s War on Terror: lining up the military might of the western world against an abstract noun. We remember Tony Blair’s lame excuses… that he was ‘only giving orders.
‘We pay tribute to the part-time volunteers in the Territorial Army who risk having their weekend plans disrupted. We celebrate the fantasists who dress up in khaki fatigues and play at being soldiers, probably because they never got the chance to take part in a real shooting war. We salute the members of the Sealed Knot, who risk open mockery by dressing up to re-enact famous battles from the past. We acknowledge their pride in making their performances as historically faithful as possible – assuming that only 35 people contested the battle the first time round.
‘We remember all these people by wearing poppies, in a unique double celebration of war and opiate-based drugs. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.’