First World War Armistice 1918 - 2018
It was the year 1918. At last, the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” had arrived. The armistice was signed in the forest of Compiègne, and the world began to breathe once again. In the background lay ten million dead and twenty million injured. Along with the corpses,there were those who had su ered wounds to their very soul, and we willnever know just how many of them there were.
It was the year 1918. And so the World of Yesterday (Stefan Zweig) came to an end and the time for rebuilding hope began. (Back then, no one had any inkling of the unparalleled evil that was yet to come and butcher that new found hope. Now and then. Millions of times.)
The a rmation of our History must be enshrined in Memory, because to preserve such Memory is to a rm our very Identity, honour the Past,accepting and cherishing the inheritance left to us by those who came before. Yet we must do this all without relinquishing our mission for theFuture; without renouncing a sense of re ection today about who we areand who we want to be.
In other words, celebrating Memory now, while also looking forward to a time that is yet to come is how Identity is created, practised and manifested; how Citizenship is expressed. And that is why the initiative by the Coordinating Committee for the Remembrance of World War I, in a felicitous partnership with the CTT is so commendable, using stamps to commemorate faces, moments and actions to mark an encounter between the Portuguese of yesterday and those of today.
The Past is brought to life on these stamps, forging a relationship with us, who contemplate it from the perspective of the Present. After all, this relationship marks the con uence of the Truth of what happened with theSense that time has given it. And it is this interweaving of what it has given us to Learn that we manage to retrieve elements for forging our Futureand rea rm it as a Project in progress.
It means honouring the memory of Portugal’s involvement in the Great War and doing justice to the tenacity and altruism of those who marchedbeneath our ag. It means going beyond a mere abstract commemoration of a particular day. It means giving weight and value to the Transmission of this memory, lest we lose ourselves altogether.
So listen to the lesson, perhaps the greatest lesson of all, that this Centenary has to teach us: nothing is a given; the limits of what makes us human are vulnerable; civilisation is a matter of uncertain, faltering triumphs; fragile in essence. And let us reassert the value of Responsibility.
Long reign a time of wine and bread and owers. A time when the earthis made fertile with Hope.
José Alberto de Azeredo Lopes
Ministry of National Defence