A Sunlit Picture of Hell*

by chuckofish

It was a difficult week for England. First, the media continued moaning and hand-ringing over ‘Brexit’.  I think this is the best response I’ve seen (it’s short, funny and very English):


Then, the English soccer team embarrassed itself by losing to Iceland. The Washington Post  marked the event with the pithy headline, “England Exits Europe twice in Four Days.”

Moving into the weekend, the English faced the solemn commemoration of the Battle of the Somme. Yesterday, July 1st, marked the hundredth anniversary of the first day of the five-month long battle. An unmitigated disaster, the British forces suffered nearly 60,000 casualties (including over 20,000 dead) on day 1. Whole battalions were wiped out.  Siegfried Sassoon wrote a vivid description of the opening scene in his war diary:

sassoon's war diary

The Somme is still a big deal in England, where people still care about their history, probably because they actually learn about it in school.

British horse guards commemorating the Somme at Thiepval cemetary

British horse guards commemorating the Somme at Thiepval cemetery

After a week like that, it’s no wonder they’ll continue to ignore the start of American Independence on July 4th. Who’d want to be reminded of that? Unfortunately, except for barbecues and fireworks, we will ignore it too. Most people in this country seem either to reject our history or see it as irrelevant, but then they don’t really learn much about it in school, so what can one expect?

As you go into this 4th of July weekend, why not do something that’s actually related to Independence Day? Visit your local historical society, go to a parade, watch an appropriate movie (not The Patriot or the Independence Day movies!), read a history book, visit an old cemetery, or just think about how lucky you are to live here.


Lest we forget.

*Siegfried Sassoon