Wondering what I could say to mark this year’s Remembrance Sunday appropriately I recalled that I had posted something last year, so I looked back to see what I had said. It’s here – On Remembrance Sunday – or you can find it in the ‘Thoughts’ menu if you want to take a look. That post was made a few days after I had finally built up the courage to make a meaningful start on this blog and publish the three parts of the story of my depression – to be found in the ‘My Story’ menu if you’re interested. Things have moved on a lot for me since then, but this is much too important a day to be used for writing about myself. What I said last year is, and always will be, still relevant but I’d like to add a couple of thoughts to it.
Yesterday I went to watch Leyton Orient, as I now do regularly. There was the customary minute’s silence before the game, which was observed perfectly all around the ground – you really could have heard the proverbial pin drop, which I think shows that young and old alike do recognise the importance of remembering the sacrifices made by so many, so that we can enjoy our freedom today. At half time there was a little ceremony which, although bedevilled by the most appalling feedback from the PA system, still managed to be moving and meaningful. The club’s history includes a remarkable show of support at the start of World War I, which was outlined in yesterday’s match programme:
This involved the club – Clapton Orient as it was then known – making a major effort to show its support for the forces, which resulted in 40 players and staff enlisting. Three of these subsequently lost their lives in the trenches of the Somme. I had not realised that this was part of the club’s history, and I share this with you as a reminder that there are thousands of similar stories such as this which remind us of the human cost of war.
By way of comparison, the second thing I want to mention today is the recent news story that the University of London Students’ Union had imposed a ban on its members from attending any Remembrance Day events in an official capacity because they “had a proud tradition of opposing war.” Fanatics aside, I believe it unlikely that there are many who are actually in favour of war! I saw a couple of interviews with the Union President when this story first broke. He was at pains to say that he didn’t want his members to share any kind of platform with Tony Blair. Whatever your views on “Bliar” and, in my opinion, his haste in taking the UK into a conflict with no justification, I am firmly of the belief that Remembrance Sunday is, as I said earlier, to allow us the opportunity to give thanks to the many who have made the ultimate sacrifice in many conflicts, to give us the freedom to hold our own opinions today. It therefore saddens me that a student politician should make such a blatant attempt to politicise today and what it stands for. Or, to take the charitable view, that he has grown up with no understanding of why he is free to form such opinions. When I was at University the students who were active in politics were almost invariably egomaniacs displaying a high level of need for self-promotion, who distorted any issue to suit themselves. It seems that little has changed in the past forty years. Today is not about making political statements. The meaning of today – and long may it remain so – is in these words:
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.
(Taken from ‘For The Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon, September 1914)
We will indeed remember them, and long may the tradition continue.