There's a lovely and moving piece by Daniel Hannan in The Telegraph - you should read the whole thing. The conclusion:
The generation that mourned its sons passed; then that which mourned its comrades; then that which mourned its fathers, clinging, perhaps, to fragmentary childhood picture-memories. Then the fallen became faces in yellowing photographs. Now they are names on family trees. Soon, they will be only history. Yet we will remember them.On a personal note, several years ago we spent Anzac Day* (April 25) at Gallipoli**, now a Turkish National park with over 20 cemeteries lovingly tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. At one spot high on the peninsula there's a narrow road with a gully on each side where soldiers from each force were entrenched - no more than 20 feet apart. The ground, at the time of our visit, was still littered with shrapnel.
Our half-Turkish, half-Australian guide led a ceremony at one of the cemeteries, surrounded by graves of "men" as young as 15, with few older than their early 20's. He recited the famous passage from Lawrence Binyon's poem For The Fallen***:
Tens of thousands of men on both sides lost their lives there in this futile clash of empires - only a few miles across the "wine-dark sea" from the ruins of ancient Troy. Of that earlier struggle, Homer wrote in book XIII of the Iliad,They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.At the going down of the sun and in the morningWe will remember them.
"It is not possible to fight beyond your strength, even if you strive."
*This day commemorates the key participation of the Australia-New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in the ill-fated Allied assault on the Turkish-held Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 during World War I. This was one of the first large-scale amphibious invasion of modern times and the first major military operation in which Australia and New Zealand participated on behalf of the British Empire. As a result, the Gallipoli campaign was perhaps the key defining event for Australia's nationhood, as it was in a sense for Turkey's also. Turkish Lieutenant-Colonel Mustafa Kemal, the hero of Gallipoli's successful defense, later became the founder of modern Turkey, adopting the name "Atatürk" - father of the Turks.
** The most readable account of the Gallipoli campaign remains Alan Moorehead's venerable history, Gallipoli, from the late 1950s. Also, the more recent Australian movie of that same name, starring the young Mel Gibson, is an excellent evocation of both the horror and exhilaration of those times.
*** The entire poem:
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.