THE end of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year will see a curious key-change, as the enjoyment and celebration of sport are followed by the start of the programme of commemoration of the First World War.

Indeed for many of the countries who are our guests for the Games, it will be a reminder not only of the war itself, but also of the time of Empire, when many of them were still under British occupation, with few personal or political freedoms.

It's never simple thinking about the way times change, applying the values of today to the events and actions of previous centuries.

But if we're to commemorate the war I think it's important to do so on modern terms, and not to gloss over the injustices of the time with words like "patriotism" and "bravery".

This debate has opened up in recent days, with Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove complaining that "left wing academics" have been cultivating a myth of the First World War as a "misbegotten shambles - a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite".

One of Gove's targets was the series of TV's Blackadder, set in the trenches.

In reply Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick, was quite restrained and simply defended the right of teachers to use the series as one teaching tool among many, and one which nobody would mistake for a documentary.

I have no doubt that many who fought in the war did show bravery and, whether or not one considers it a virtue, patriotism.

But it would be wrong to acknowledge that without also acknowledging that this war was no unfortunate tragedy, as Mr Gove suggests, but an atrocity perpetrated by the powerful leaders of both sides, and that they were willing to expend the lives of millions of their own citizens.

Those who chose to begin this war may have sincerely valued bravery and patriotism when they were shown, but that didn't stop them conscripting the unwilling or executing their own soldiers to impose discipline.

This was a time in which the governments of Europe, largely headed by branches of the same royal dynasty, rounded up vast numbers of young men from every city, town and village, herded them into muddy fields and forced them to murder one another, while telling them that it was noble.

To commemorate such a conflict without judging the actions of those who brought about such brutality, who squandered the lives of their own citizens and those of the countries they occupied in their empires, would be little more than empty jingoism.

A century on, it's still vital that we strive to find lessons of peace in the memory of war.