This is my (slightly redacted) response to a very kind e-mail I received from the organisers of the project to collate letters to the Unknown Soldier:
Thank you for your e-mail and the invitation to get involved in this project. I was aware of it, of course: your publicity machine has been excellent.
I’m afraid I take a rather austere line. If this offers an opportunity to commemorate those who made a sacrifice during the FWW (which included many more than just soldiers who died), then we’re in danger of missing the target and turning it into a sentimental exercise which is actually all about us, not them. If, on the other hand, it could give us an opportunity to educate, at least on the evidence so far (especially Stephen Fry’s letter, which was desperately lazy and disappointing) insufficient effort is going into that aspect. We run the risk of perpetuating cliches, stereotypes and myths, when we should be giving folk a chance to engage with them critically.
Anyway, that’s all rather pompous, for which I apologise. I hope, though, that it makes clear why I shan’t be participating.
I wish you very good luck with it, nonetheless.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.