“They disembarked in ‘45
And no spoke and no one smiled.
There were too many spaces in the line”
Yesterday was our National Remembrance Day in the UK, and we attended services in the morning. Our Vicar is an impassioned and resolute intellectual, with true warmth and compassion towards the subject. Also, in his case, experience, as a former Naval Chaplain.
Damian Merciar too has several years’ personal experience of the Forces, and, like most families of this country, experience of the losses from both conflicts. His Great Grandfather was one of the tens of thousands killed in the early days of the Somme, and his Grandfather a veteran of the Royal Artillery Regiment, wounded in action in occupied France – after doubling up as a paratrooper.
This was precisely the point about the Sermon delivered yesterday – that it is only with personal experience that we are able to honour what is meant by Remembrance. This is distinct from a call for Peace. A separate and necessary time for reflection, mourning and a possible tempering of the will towards not letting this happen again. Mankind is a violent animal, and the latter point is uttered as much in hope as anything else. See Rwanda, Darfur, recent (and historical) Balkans’ implosions – let alone what passes for ‘calming’ measures in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Pain is a universal leveller; there are economic, societal, psychological and emotional losses to be borne as a result. Remembrance is a necessary balm.