A couple of years ago, my good friend Rudi sent me a link to a wonderful article (with photos) from The Atlantic, entitled Scenes From D-Day, Then and Now.
Now, I don’t know about you, but it is hard to imagine that prominent locations where so many young men lost their lives during WW2 are now little more than a popular beach, parking lot or scenic town. Will today’s great “issues” and wars of the 21st Century suffer a similar fate of collective amnesia?
I was struck by the impact of The Atlantic article when visiting one of the 20 or so museums in Val di Sole (Province of Trento), commemorating the First World War (“the Great War”). While we didn’t visit all of the museums, we did visit the War museum of Vermiglio (one of the largest towns in the region) and then drove by Fort Strino, that was closed.
While this now beautiful landscape in Val di Sole looks eerily similar to The Atlantic WW2 photos shown in the article, the loss of many young men under inhuman conditions seems as dramatically out-of-place then as it does today.
I have no wish to enter into the merits or justification of war as a political instrument, but these scenes of the last two World Wars is a wakeup call to anyone who would willingly sacrifice the life of another knowing that in 50 years time, his or her blood was likely shed on something no more significant than a parking space or a patch of wildflowers on a hillside.