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C. P. Scott – The dead rely on the living

September 24, 2014

“The dead in war are terribly at the mercy of the living. Those whom we shall remember in the two minutes of silence today gave their lives, which most of them treasured, in the hope that their gift would help to make a cleaner and less sour world. But, their lives once given, they lost all their own power to insist, when peace came, that this price should not have been paid for nothing. Once they were out of the way, it rested with us who have survived them to decide whether the dead should be remembered for ever as founders of a nobler new Europe…. If Greece had failed after Marathon, the Spartans who fell there would not have been remembered ever since by the world as models of staunchness in extremity. They would have passed out of sight and mind as completely as the hundreds of other stout parties of soldiers who have died hard for insignificant causes or ignoble rulers. Their real and everlasting monument is the use that Greece made of the chance which those men’s fortitude gave her.”

(from an editorial in the Manchester Guardian, on Armistice Day, 1924)

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