An act of Remembrance

For various reasons I found myself in Camberley this morning, drinking coffee and availing myself of the free wifi in High Cross Church. Nice and quiet, comfy chairs. Could come here more. As I sat with my e mails, a voice came over the PA inviting all to join in an act of remembrance. It was 11am on the 11th of the 11th. Doors opened all round the room and people poured in from whatever meetings or activities they were attending. A few words over the PA – the familiar remembrance words we all know, silence and, in the distance, two rounds signified the end.

I’ve never been one for poppies – I was brought up to regard ostentatious giving as bad form and poppies often seem to be a way of boasting that you’ve given (also AIDS ribbons, daffodils and so on). Looking round though, I was struck by a feeling of solidarity. Remember those who served, who sacrificed. In my case World War 1 meant my grandfather in the trenches and as a POW, World War 2 meant my father (and father in law) in the RAF, in the desert and in air sea rescue. The Irish troubles meant a close friend blown up at 20. And Iraq/Afghanistan? Conflicts which were themselves the source of conflict here at home. More sacrifice and loss, much of it avoidable. We say ‘never again’ but don’t seem to learn.

As ‘The Door’ has played around the country with its exploration of military interventions and politics I’ve been struck by how it strikes a chord with people who have strong associations with the forces, who are still serving, who are ex service people or their families, and also with those who opposed the Iraq intervention in particular from the start. It may be necessary to fight sometimes but it’s too easy to send others to fight from the security of Westminster. Let’s hope some lessons have been learnt.

‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning….’

Tony Earnshaw

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