Throughout the years I have heard and seen many different versions of that famous quote about memory and the tragic repetition of the past, but the one that they all spin off from is Spanish born philosopher’s George Santayana’s original formulation: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’
Harry Leslie Smith is a man who remembers a lot.
Born into poverty in the North of England in 1923, prior to the creation of the National Health Service, he was forced to watch his older sister die of tuberculosis—a treatable but then unaffordably so condition. While still a teenager he would see Europe be drenched in blood and turned to rubble as the Nazis sought to murder their way to dominance. Confronted with the most horriying reality imaginable, Harry would enlist in the Royal Air Force in an effort to help fight the rising tide of murderous Fascism. He had not yet even turned 20. After the war was finally won he would live in Hamburg as a member of an occupying force. There, as the dust settled on the war-ravaged continent, he met the woman that would become his wife, Friede. After a little while the couple would move back to England and then eventually Canada, where they would have three sons together. After Friede’s death in 1999, Harry would turn to writing and campaigning. To date he has written five books and numerous columns for various newspapers, as well as becoming a campaigner for the rights of refugees, and a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s goal to return the Labour Party to the form that Harry himself recognises as the political movement that had given birth to the National Health Service back in 1948, when the working class and solidarity amongst peoples in a Britain still climbing out from the shadow of war helped build a more just and fair society.
Like I say, Harry remembers a lot.
Harry has learned a lot too. In his tireless campaigning, in his recent years he has turned to Twitter to spread the message, and he has come to wield the social media site like a weapon forged of wisdom, humanity, and wit. His Twitter feed is a wonderful place. Because that other old saying, about an old dog learning new tricks? Harry doesn’t have time for that nonsense. He moves ahead with the time, deftly and intelligently.
How many times must this be said but a man doesn't accept his responsibility in a horrific and unjustified war by becoming an adviser to tyrants around the world and making millions in the process. You don't atone for needless deaths by feathering your own nest with wealth. https://t.co/VaUhm1R1eN— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 20, 2018
When you think far left is an end to the housing crisis, fair wages, higher taxes for the wealthy and a public NHS, you're a Tory. https://t.co/HbAiWi7COZ— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 9, 2018
Remember Toronto, that refugee crisis didn't cause the housing crisis b/c the waiting list for subsidized housing in Toronto has over a hundred thousand people on it and they'll wait decades for an affordable apartment. #dougford— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 20, 2018
RAF base Hamburg July 26, 1945: in the heat of summer & in the blaze of peace in Europe, an officer passed me and as I dropped my salute to him he said with joy. "Attlee's bloody done it." And so I heard that for the first time Britain was for the many and not the few. pic.twitter.com/FvconqgZK3— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 26, 2018
Dear well heeled man: Never patronize me. Iraq War should have been stopped, Crash of 2008 should have been stopped, politicising migration should have been stopped & austerity should have been stopped but the 1% and the top 20% of income earners were too busy having a good time https://t.co/pB2XhR7Olo— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 29, 2018
Until Britain understands that it wasn't Russia that compromised our democracy but Murdoch, over decades, and the politicians that courted his favour; we will never escape #Brexit— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 29, 2018
The Daily Mail has been selling xenophobia and soft selling fascism, since the days of my youth, in the 1930s. Telling them to say sorry will never fix the harm they've done and still do to British society and democracy. https://t.co/wt9cOTz7Nv— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 27, 2018
Make no mistake, a Labour government under Corbyn would not destroy capitalism, just put a leash on it like Attlee did in 1945 to build the NHS and end the housing crisis. #Labour— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 23, 2018
If you're working for #HomelandSecurity and ripping children from their mothers' arms and putting them into concentration camps; you're acting exactly like the enemy that your parents and grandparents fought against in world war two.— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) June 18, 2018
Another thing that Harry has no time for is that other staple of the modern age. The troll. The trolls come for Harry on Twitter like they do for many. But Harry Leslie Smith, 95-year old World War 2 veteran, bats them away like the buzzing gnats of irrelevence they are.
When my parakeet gets into the sherry. https://t.co/IYyNlATX1O— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 29, 2018
Every hour Nigel Farage is allowed to speak to his listeners is another hour where the truth of our economic & political situation is abused, beaten and humiliate like a victim of bullying. LBC giving a fascist air time isn’t about balance it’s about appeasing evil. #DumpFarage— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 24, 2018
Shaun: one of the first signs of heat stroke is confusion and an inability to perceive reality. https://t.co/0fmTiwZGDL— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 23, 2018
No what you smell is burning rubber because I put on the brakes of you trolling me by blocking you. https://t.co/iQnACCXS8D— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 22, 2018
In the 1970s, Britain didn't need food banks and the pavements of London weren't awash in the homeless, nor did over a million children live in poverty or did students need to mortgage their future for a uni degree like today under the #tories https://t.co/IaISMdJBTU— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 29, 2018
Just to be clear, my major transgressions have included serving weak tea, not putting the toilet set down but never sending a nation to war under false pretenses or being one of the two decision makers whose vision caused half a million to die needlessly. https://t.co/dPPxopX2NS— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 21, 2018
Curtis, I was square bashed in 1941, unless you are in uniform now or in the reserves ,kindly piss off. https://t.co/pFmR7lbIeS— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 20, 2018
Oh I don't know maybe because of what defines xenophobia. https://t.co/JVHy3pFfMa— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 19, 2018
Kimberly I volunteered for the RAF in1941- when did you serve? I saw the end result of fascism when I served in the occupational forces in Germany & crossed paths with holocaust victims. Playing a video war game doesn't make you a vet or give you any grasp of war or history. https://t.co/9EfaqSqoDe— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 30, 2018
Dear Trolls:— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 21, 2018
Just so you know, I lived through the Great Depression, The Second World War and deaths of my wife and middle son. So you don"t scare me and I am not going anywhere.