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)
I have posted these words each year on Remembrance Sunday, and will keep on doing so. They never lose their meaning or their simple power, their power to remind us of the sacrifice made by so many to protect the way of life we enjoy today – above all, our freedom.
I don’t want to get into a debate about pacifism, but am very clear that I find war abhorrent. However, that does not stop me from marking my respect for anyone who has ever taken part in a campaign to protect my freedom. I will observe the official silence in my own way, and will give them my thanks. Official commemorations began in the UK in 1919, after the end of the First World War, and have since developed to include the Second World War and those who have served in other campaigns. In the town of Epping, where I live, we have a war memorial, in common with most towns in the UK. In these days of Covid-19 and the second national lockdown across England I would imagine that the usual procession through the town and service at the memorial will not be able to take place, but I have seen people on the local Facebook group saying they want to do something to mark their respect, so I guess there will be some unofficial wreaths laid.
Every passing year, fewer veterans of the Second World War remain and, sadly, some of those who would have been able to attend ceremonies this year may no longer be with us next year, and will have missed their last chance to take part in remembering their comrades. I hope, for their sake, that they can do their bit today in some way, knowing that we all admire and respect them. This day always gives us a dignified, respectful commemoration, and I hope that today will be no different, albeit in straitened circumstances. And I also hope that this commemoration will be as unsullied as possible by politics or by any hint that Binyon’s words about the years not ‘condemning’ those who died are being proved wrong, as has appeared to be the trend in some circles in recent years..
Wherever you are, however you do it, I hope that you will be able to spare a moment to give thanks for those who have died to protect our way of life.