Though not a traditionalist in many ways I always buy a poppy to remember the fallen. I try to impress on my two kids the sacrifices made by a generation of young men. There is a Common near here with ditches and I try to help them imagine what it must have felt like to be in one of them ready to meet probably fatal enemy fire.
When we went to Scarborough recently I took a picture of a First World War Memorial, which you find all over England, often surrounded, like this one, with wreaths and people.
Once I was on a camping holiday and I remember staying up all night to read Sebastian Faulk's 'Birdsong', which is about the experience in the trenches and remember being a bit chastened the next day. Another good response is, of course, 'Blackadder' (a comedy) which is very moving and has the sergeant reflecting how they are going to get out of it before they go over:'We are going to have to be cleverer than a fox that is a Professor of Cunning at Oxford University'.
Of course, all this was probably a complete waste of young lives, 'lions led by donkeys', as they were. Probably parallels can be drawn with the current war in Iraq. That is why I like the rebellious artistic responses to the War, preultimate among these being Dadaism, which poked fun at the kind of blind obedience to the prevailing bourgoise mentality that led to the deaths of the predominantly working class Pals Battalions. As Wilfred Owen put it, the old lie - Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori . I like this moustache drawn on the Mona Lisa. This healthy disrespect for authority fuelled the artistic movements which led to Postmodernism and ultimately to movements like punk. Although young lives are still being sadly wasted in the armed forces, I would argue that it would be very difficult to find sufficient numbers of young men willing to undertake a similar task on such a scale as the one faced in 1914-18 now, in the West, at least.