Some thoughts On Remembrance

Ladies and Gentlemen

At 11 O’clock today we mark the anniversary of the moment when, in 1918, the Guns formally stopped firing after unimaginable hardship and sacrifice for many, not only on the front line, but also those across the world who mourned loved ones lost or maimed.
At the time, it was dubbed the War to end all wars – sadly that was not to be and over the intervening century many more men and women from across the globe have stood forth when called and in many cases have given their lives, health or loved ones.
As I watched dawn break over the Cheviots this morning, it gave me pause to reflect on the Legacy that these people and communities have left us and how we have managed it.  In a world beset by divisive politics and global uncertainty, perhaps it is worth us all reflecting on the legacy that we, individually and collectively will leave to those who follow us.
Members of the North Northumberland Branch of the Royal British Legion are attending a huge range of events, services and acts of Remembrance over the next few days.  Many of these are local, whilst many are much farther afield.  We have decided to spread wide and whilst we will not be numerous at any individual event, the collective reach is huge.
Many of the individual acts of remembrance are very small, but all are equally important.  On Thursday, the Ford First School year 4 pupils conducted their incredibly moving acts of Remembrance at Kirknewton and Learmouth Memorials, both of which now lack a formal service.  Listening to them deliver a short service that they had created, and talking to them about what remembrance means was, as ever, a humbling experience and made me think anew on some of the words that we routinely use at Remembrance and reflect on what we are doing with the legacy we have all received from those who have gone before.
During Remembrance services we use the evocative words from “For the Fallen” by Lawrence Binyon.
They shall grow not 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.
It never fails to amaze me how these words conjure threads and thoughts that put the world into a bit of prospective.
Finally, I have been thinking about the words of the famous epitaph written by John Maxwell Edmunds and immortalised on the Memorial at Kohima.  Most specifically their implications….
When you go home,
Tell them of us and say
For their Tomorrow
We gave our Today.
Whilst we may not all necessarily be called to make the ultimate sacrifice (though many have  and are still being called), we do all have a role to play –  If we do nothing else, perhaps we should strive to ensure that when history judges the footprints we leave behind, we have given as much as we can.  Quite some challenge, but one that we can at least aspire to!
As we all attend acts of remembrance and support events, large and small whether locally, nationally or internationally, we are honouring the legacy that we have been left and rising above the politics and problems of todays world – I wonder whether there is a lesson to be learned!
The very best of luck to everyone with the myriad of events that are running over the next few days – I think I can speak for everyone when I say that even though everyone can’t be at every particular event, our collective thoughts will be with everyone through the common lexicon of remembrance!

North Northumberland Branch of the Royal British Legion

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