Lest We Forget
Having been taking part in the Remembrance Sunday commemorations for what must be nearly 30 years now, I am all too familiar with the early morning rush around to locate both a poppy and a lyre, the freezing fingers and toes as we wait the march to begin and then the nerves during the formalities at the war memorial and fear of playing in the wrong place. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the now and forget exactly why we have Remembrance Sunday.
Although Remembrance Sunday started in 1919 to commemorate all those who served during WW1, we also remember and honour those who served during WW2 and subsequent conflicts. King George V introduced the two minutes silence in 1919 saying: "All work, all sound, and all locomotion should cease, so that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead." So, this Sunday, a 100 years since the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month when the battles ceased we shall once again be leading the procession and marching to the war memorial in Thatcham. For two minutes between the Last Post and Reveille we shall stand at the war memorial honouring and respecting the local individuals who have served during the conflicts. This year we have also been invited to play on Sunday evening at the WW1 Armistice Centenary Concert in St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.
Having not lived through a world war I personally find the reality of these conflicts hard to imagine. For me, the black and white footage of the battle fields and trenches does not do the reality of the situation justice – to me it just does not look or feel real. However, having recently seen this footage transformed into colour, it has made the atrocities of WW1 alarmingly real and scenes that are much more relatable. Although the footage didn’t include sound when originally recorded, speech-readers have carefully reviewed the footage and added the dialogue and banter. The impact was astounding and really brought into sharp focus that those who fought in the war were normal human beings, someone’s son, father, husband, neighbour, or friend. Imagine how many of your loved ones would be affected today if such a scenario was repeated?
So, for one hour, once a year, we remember those who served to protect our country and those who never returned home from doing so. When you put it that way, it doesn’t feel like much to ask. In fact, I’m incredibly grateful for the chilly fingers and toes during this peace time and that I will very shortly be able to warm up and get on with the rest of my day, something many of those who fought to secure and protect our freedom never got the opportunity to do.