No matter what our views on the futility or injustice of war, dictated by neccessity, greed, prejudice or the defense of the oppressed, it happens. Today, all over Britain and in countless cities and villages worlwide, the young men and women who have fought for their countries, in defence of freedom, have been remembered.
There are those who call for an end to this gesture of Remembrance. Today I stood by the village cenotaph at 11am and watched old Ken, a veteran of WWII, lay a wreath. He is frail and finds walking difficult, but every year with his head held high and tears streaming, medals gleaming on his chest, he lays the wreath.
On the cenotaph are the names of those who fell.. whole families of young men from one small village, among scenes of horror most of us can only imagine. Ken himself has told of the things he saw while serving on HMS Valiant. Things no young man should see.
My great grandfather, my grandfather and my father served and fought with the Royal Engineers My paternal grandfather served with the Guards. My grandmother was a WREN. They are .. or were..all reticent about the horrors they saw. Their homes were bombed, friends killed.
Even as a child I played in city fields which were bombsites and were still full of bomb shelters.
It is not a 'long time ago'. It is still reflected in old Ken's eyes as he places the poppies on the cold stone and weeps. War is still happening, families are still torn apart, children are still maimed and mothers still weep.
And young men and women still serve their country and are lost.
Say a prayer for peace.. but remember those who place their faith and duty to serve their countries and those who fall.
For The Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
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