A very different Remembrance Sunday

editorial image

A very special Remembrance Sunday this year. Not that they aren’t all special. Even if you are a pacifist and question why wars have to happen or are allowed to happen in the first place, wars do happen and there are still service men and women around the world laying down their lives.

There would be few, I would suspect, in this country who would have been happy to live under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler, whatever their feelings might be about the vailidity of war.

We pride ourselves on being tolerant and all-inclusive. Heck, we just had a referendum where anyone aged 16 or over and living in Scotland could vote. Would we really have been happy to have been persecuted, segregated and finally eliminated for our religious beliefs and ethnic origins?

So that is why, despite illness, we are sitting – the Young Mistress and I – watching the BBC coverage from the Cenotaph. Since I have lived in the Borders, we have attended services in different towns and villages, especially Galashiels.

The memorial there has special significance as Mr E has a relative, a great uncle who served and died at the beginning of the First World War, named on it.

My own grandma’s brother was killed close to the end of the First World War, aged only 19. Mr E’s great uncle, John Murdoch, was a regular soldier serving in The Black Watch, over in France too, but died right at the very beginning.

But no matter how old they were, and when they gave their lives, their sacrifice is of equal importance. As the YM and I sit here, discussing the Big Questions that this memorial service raises, we are in agreement that they are all someone’s children, someone’s partner, someone’s parents, someone’s sister or brother.

And on this very special service, in the 100th year since the start of the “war to end all wars”, they deserve our very special remembrance.

And as the Queen and the Royal party leave Whitehall, having laid their wreaths, there is a respectful ripple of applause. This I have never heard before. Perhaps, amidst the swirling concerns around this special anniversary as an opportunity for a terrorist attack, the applause is in recognition of the fact that, despite the concerns for their safety, they attended.

Bravery in the face of adversity, and the need to carry out this important centennial act of remembrance.

The applause starts again, this time more rousingly, for the ex-servicemen and women parading down Whitehall, young and old, able-bodied and not so able-bodied, war widows, all united in remembrance.