Thomas Tarurongo Wynne: We doom ourselves to repeat history

Friday April 24, 2020 Written by Published in Editorials
Sergeant Thomas Wynne. 20042320 Sergeant Thomas Wynne. 20042320

OPINION: In 1914, when War broke out in Europe, a young man by the name of Thomas Wynne enlisted in the Irish Fusiliers and was sent to Belgium to fight in a War he probably knew little about other than it was possibly an opportunity for what some called adventure, some honour, some for God and country.

Regardless of his reasons why, he would leave the emerald green shores of Dublin by ship to Liverpool, then make his way with the regiment to Belgium. It was June, and he would be killed by sniper fire in a small town just on the border of France and Belgium where his body now lies.

He like so many other men responded to a call and many for so many reasons.

But one thing was clear, the decisions made by their leaders of the day would ultimately cost them their lives.

And he would pay the greatest price for the decision of others, by losing his life to someone he would never meet or know, a stray bullet fired across a hill and trenches that took his life, in his 23rd year, in December of 1914.

Sacrifice would be the price paid by the many, and chosen in cabinet rooms, on oak tables far away from the consequences of their decision.

As difficult or as easy the decision made by British and German and empire leaders of the day for the most part their families, their sons and daughters would not have to meet the toll required by their decision.

And in that vacuum protected from the ravages of war, time and again, men have placed other people’s sons in the firing line, and so many civilians, to meet their own need for power or control, land or resources – or simply the opportunity to exploit war for their fiscal gain.

My great-uncle is now just a photo in our genealogy tree, and I carry his name as have a number of other men in my family from Dublin, including my grandfather Thomas Wynne, and great-uncle John Wynne who fought with bravery in the Middle East and Italy.

As we commemorate Anzac Day, and remember their sacrifice, maybe it is timely to remember also the decisions made that cost them their lives.

And as difficult as they may be, surely there is a better way then war to advance a countries interests or to settle differences.

As this sober time comes around again we can rally together and say enough is enough of what US President Dwight D Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex.

This is the relationship between the military and those that made weapons of war – and the fact some leaders have taken war and other times of challenge (be the enemy seen or unseen) and used it to profit off the lives of their citizens, or their quality of life.

Eisenhower warned America as it traversed down this road of war and profit. That was echoes as US President George W Bush stood on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, with the banner behind him, “Mission Accomplished”.

What would follow has been 17 more years of death and carnage in the Middle-East with the loss of American and Iraqi lives climbing into the hundreds of thousands.

I wonder sometimes, what does he think when he reflects on this moment as he arrogantly announced the end to a war that was far from over, and in fact the seed beds to the insurgency that would follow were sowed deep into the fertile soil of the power vacuum left behind by the American invasion of a sovereign country.

Weapons of mass destruction – how can we forget the false narrative that was sown into the Western world, the fear this reaped, used to manipulate good people into making decisions to join a war that was immoral and founded on a lie.

Governments that use fear, sow it into their people and divide their people by creating a them-and-us mentality. They ensure the “them” becomes public enemy number one.

I remember watching it and buying into it hook, line and sinker, but after all was revealed years later, the lesson for us all is to be mindful and careful of what we here and what we believe especially when fear is used as a motivator.

As we remember Gallipoli, remember also the tragic consequences of Winston Churchill’s decisions that cost those men, our men their lives on those wretched slopes.

And as we remember their sacrifice, make sure that it not be in vain. That we learn the mistakes of the past or – as the warning goes – we will make those mistakes again.

Lest we forget them and their sacrifice, that we cannot change, and lest we forget the lessons they leave us with which we have the opportunity to change today


1 comment

  • Comment Link Paul Barber Thursday, 21 May 2020 11:16 posted by Paul Barber

    Dear Mr. Thomas Tarurongo Wynne,
    Greetings I am an aircraft mechanic writing to you from Wisconsin, USA. I have been to your wonderful country twice and plan to come back again in November and March, I hope.
    On my last trip I found myself with a garbage bag picking up plastic on the beautiful beaches near the resort I stayed at. It was an honor and a pleasure to do so. I was brought up to take care of the land I am standing on be it mine or someone elses.
    You have a beautiful people and a beautiful land, take care of both.

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