Lest we forget…

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
-Laurence Binyon

poppy

11th of the 11th at 11 o’clock. We pause to remember.  2 minutes of silence to honor so much sacrifice. Marking the aniversary of the end of the First World War is particularly poignant this year given the passing of the last living veteran of that terrible waste of human life.  That generation sadly no longer to be around to remind us of the sacrifice they made …  We must not forget.

I will always remember my history teacher driving this point home one Remembrance Day in the school chapel service, 400-some students and teachers crammed in, all of course wearing the little paper poppy which has become the symbol of respect and remembrance over here thanks to the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. Dr Mundill’s approach was a simple one: he took a glass mixing bowl, placed it on the ground at the altar steps and informed us that he would now read from the schools book of remembrance the names of the former pupils who had lost their lives in that bloody war. For each name he requested that one of the current boys would remove his poppy, place it in this bowl and leave the service. (Girls were excluded as 1) the school was not co-educational in those days and 2) there were no women allowed to fight at the front in World War 1) .

That list went on… and on… and on… all lost… all so young… by the time he finished his tribute there were the girls and a handful of male students staring at the empty pews… and an overflowing bowl of little red paper flowers that seemed to show so much. We left in silence. … I will never forget.

I saw two older members of the British Legion working their little stand this year in a super market while I was away from home. I was busy trying to find some cardboard boxes for a house move. I watched as people passed by: very few these days stopping to give up a precious pound for the cause. You have to admire the voluntary work these veterans do trying to ensure that we remember, honoring fallen comrades with their service still to this day.  I had to stop, apologizing as I could only find a measly 20p coin in my pocket and uttering an embarrassing thank you. I was greeted with two bright smiles as one gentlemen tried to pin a paper poppy to my chest despite my under payment. In the younger eyes of those I was with I may have looked a fool for doing it. It certainly would have been easier to just walk by and carry on with my day but I couldn’t… heroes shouldn’t go ignored.

Today:

I am remembering … all those fallen through history and sadly also  in recent times. Lives cut short so that we might have the freedoms they gave up.

I am remembering all the families waiting patiently yet never get to joyfully welcome their loved ones home.

I am remembering the waste of life, the loss of potential

I pay tribute also to all those currently serving:  the men and women who show courage and determination often beyond their years.

To anyone separated from their serving loved ones by war

Thank you hardly seems enough … but leaving it unsaid would be an insult so:

THANK YOU

Ali xX


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