EDITOR – Although wars still make the news, armed conflict on a truly global scale has today been experienced by so few of us that the question arises: how do we keep our respect for all those who laid down their lives in two World Wars meaningful and relevant?
To answer that we must turn to the only part of our heritage that reminds us as a nation of those dark years, our war memorials.
Whatever form they take, most war memorials were erected between 1918 and 1925 with almost no formalisation in terms of financing, design, construction methods or siting. In 1923, the War Memorials (Local Authorities’ Powers) Act gave councils the power to direct public money at war memorial upkeep should they choose. However, the Act, which to this day remains the key piece of legislation, never compelled them to do so.
Today, not only do war memorials have to dovetail with the demands of 21st century living, but the prospect of coping with their sheer numbers in terms of establishing some kind of priority of work required, including establishing precise ownership, is a nightmare scenario for most councils. More so in the current economic climate.
The forthcoming Centenary of the ‘Great War’ in 2014-2018 is beginning to focus minds on how this can be marked. If war memorial upkeep was made a national issue with finance, possibly in the form of a ‘National War Memorial Restoration Fund’, from Central Government, we could work toward the Centenary of the Armistice in November 2018 by creating the ultimate tribute; a national collection of pristine, safe and readable war memorials.
The fund would, of course, be taxpayers’ money but I believe that, for once, most taxpayers would be happy to see planned and sensible investment in this part of our heritage.
Visit www.clean2018.moonfruit.com for more details of my ideas.
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