Dead people cannot vote. Dead soldiers or not. They cease to have the ability to either express an opinion, let alone put a tick in a box. That’s pretty much an unfortunate consequence of no longer being – you can’t do anything of much.
Unlike North Korea, we don’t live in a necrocracy. Even they only allow their first ruler to continue to be their country’s official leader from the grave. But they don’t let dead people vote. (Although, having said that, they don’t let too much voting be done by anyone – dead or alive.)
I don’t band around pictures of my grand-fathers (both of whom fought in WWII), nor my grandmothers (both of whom worked in military departments at the time). I don’t think it would be right. I cannot speak for people who have no voice. I have no idea how they would vote or what they would think. I have a pretty good idea some of the time, but to use them to support my own point of view would be completely unacceptable.
I’d like to think my grandparents fought for peace, to conquer nationalism and to bring countries and peoples closer together. But the reality is that, what I remember of them, they expressed pretty racist and nationalistic views at times. My maternal grandfather, who assisted in liberating France and Belgium, gave me my first golly-wog, used to call any black animals he didn’t know the names of ‘N****r’ and frequently complained about “foreign muck”, such as (and I am entirely serious) melted cheese on pizza. My paternal grandfather, who fought as a Captain in the Far East, died before I was born, so I have no idea. My maternal grandmother, a God-fearing Baptist, looked disapprovingly (but forced a smile) when first introduced to my brother’s Japanese girlfriend. Thankfully she died before I had relationships with a Polish, then a Jamaican-British, then another Jamaica-British and now a Dutch-Tunisian girl. If she hadn’t already died, I think the fifth heart attack would probably have done it. My paternal grandmother passed when I was 4 years old. My memories of her are positive, but I hardly had reason to discuss matters of race and politics with her during that period of my life, so I can only guess what her stances might have been. Seeing as she sponsored a child in a children’s village in Kenya and took frequent visits to different countries in Europe and Asia, I would say that she, of them all, was pretty open-minded and tolerant. But even that I cannot be sure of.
Perhaps more reasonably and entirely honestly, my Great Uncle, who had been imprisoned by the Japanese for two years in the Far East, took a slightly different approach. Alongside furnishing my brother with books about Japanese atrocities during World War Two to perhaps dissuade him from his love affair with that country, he did admit to not holding a grudge with the young generation of Japansese. However, he defiantly claimed that, if he were to ever meet a Japanese person of his own age, he “would kick them”. Whether that event ever occurred and there is an elderly Japanese man walking around with a bruise on his shin, I know not. My Great Uncle has since passed.
In my maternal grandparents’ defence, they did indeed harbour some love and admiration for their European neighbours. My mother’s love of French (which I believe is the root of my love of languages too) stemmed from an exchange she went on to Brittany at the age of 14. My grandparents were obviously comfortable enough to welcome and provide hospitality to a French teen (who we maintained a life-long friendship with until she sadly passed too) during the early sixties. They also enjoyed, and lamented, one of their few trips abroad to Belgium and the Netherlands to revisit the areas my Grandfather had help liberate in 1944. My Grandfather also presented me with my first ever English-French dictionary, the one that he carried with him in his pocket when he landed on the French shore one day after D-Day. I’m not sure how much he used it then, but he obviously thought there wasn’t much call for it whiling away his final years in Leigh-On-Sea.
So, I have no idea what my grandparents would say about their motives for participating in World War Two, their opinions on Brexit or how they might view the current state of British politics. At no point did they give me power of attorney to act on behalf of their conscience, either while alive or dead.
For the same reasons we don’t permit skeletons from the Middle Ages to enter poll booths, using what we think might be the views of dead relatives is both wrong and, in fact, disrespectful to them. They never consented to being used as political pawns in YOUR arguments and I certainly wouldn’t want any future grandchild of mine to think he knew me and my views to the extent that he would use them in order to prop up his own. Be confident enough of your own stance, do your research, spend time considering all sides, don’t use dead people in military regalia to add strength to what is often a weak or unfounded argument.
Were I to bring back ancestors from the 1200s, we might find their views and opinions pretty abhorrent and radically different from our own. Of course, their lives existed in the context of their time and the views they expressed (if indeed they were allowed to) were a reflection of the lives they lived in the period they did. They were not, and are not, a representation of the many possible whims, tastes and preferences of the generations they had yet to spawn.
So, do us a break, give your passed relatives a bit of respect and, for goodness sake, fight your own battles, don’t try to let the dead do it for you.