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A Reflection on the Nature of Civilian Rememberance

By: Alexa Davidson

During the first three days of our trip to Europe, my thoughts were turned almost solely to the personal suffering of the civilians of war. During our first visits of the trip, we were constantly hearing about the statistics and vague references to the horror and suffering of the London citizens. While there are mentions of them and pieces of their existence in museums, the civilian deaths, specifically mentioning those in London, don’t seem to be remembered as much more than facts. They are remembered, don’t get me wrong, but something about it seems different than active duty combatants.

They acknowledge that the Germans bombing was bad and semi-disastrous and that the return bombing of the British and Americans is acknowledged to be devastating and at best morally gray. But as far as memorializing the innocent civilians who sacrificed their lives and put forward as much effort towards the war as they could, patrolling the streets and turning industry entirely to the war effort, there didn’t seem to be anything, or if there was we did not visit it and we did not mention it, or even worse, existed as a seeming after thought. I’m not saying it was a purposeful censoring, just an odd skip in public memory. It’s a weird part of historical memory, not so much revisionist history as it is a gap in remembrance. While those personally connected to the victims of the bombings, it will not be something that they easily forget, but common public memory has a tendency to omit the things that are not purely good or evil, the ordinary people who have to live and toil through the loss and the violence alone.