Tag: we will remember them

“To one who will forever dwell in love and cherished memory” – Remembrance Day 2017

“To one who will forever dwell in love and cherished memory” – Remembrance Day 2017

11 November – Remembrance Day…

I think this year I feel more thankful than ever to be living in a stable and peaceful part of the world and feel the call stronger to pray for and work for those who do not have stability and who have been impacted by the effects of war. So many have given and are giving their lives.

…Yet while onlookers stand and see the simple, moving ceremony

There is a home, a place somewhere, where sits a waiting, vacant chair

And one great yawning empty space in someone’s heart, no last embrace

To bid a final, fond farewell to one who will forever dwell

In love and cherished memory, a Husband, Son, eternally.

– From “Home at Last”, by Tony Church (former Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineer)

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In that rich earth a richer dust concealed

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

– Rupert Brooke

Today is the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916; the largest battle of the First World War and the greatest loss of life in the history of the British Army.

It is hard to find adequate words for this day as we remember sacrifice on that scale. I wonder if we think enough on the way and the reasons people gave their lives.

When I was at school we made a trip to some of the Somme battlefields and memorials, including the Thiepval memorial (pictured above*) where the commemoration service was held today. I am very thankful that we went there. We walked some of the tracks over the fields; we made our way through ruins of some of the dug-outs and trenches; we counted names on the huge memorials; we passed through lines of stark white crosses. I remember looking at the engraving of the name of one soldier not yet 16. We could not imagine the horror that was suffered and the lives given in those fields but it did give a lasting impression, just a little more, of the scale of the sacrifice and what we remember.

At school we also studied the poem above. Most of the analyses of it focus on Brooke’s patriotism. Yes, of course that love of and gratitude for our homeland is strong and passionate. But the way I read it, it is not an isolating, insular love of our country. It is a generous love. As England blessed The Soldier, so the Soldier is giving himself for a better world, and looking forward to the peace of the pure peace of heaven; he “gives somewhere back” the good that he has, in his life and in his death.

The sacrifices of these soldiers seem all the more poignant to me this year, given the current uncertainty of the future for the peaceful Europe we fought for, sparked by our exit last week. They also remind us that we have come through far worse times than now, and that we have so very much to be thankful for.

– We will remember Them. –

Ginny xxx

*With thanks to somme2016.org for the image

PS – for some reason my blog has decided not to let me insert hyperlinks in my post above tonight 😦 To read more about the 100th anniversary commemorations, you can visit: http://www.somme-battlefields.com/centenary-somme-centenary-14-18/commemorations-2016-countdown-has-begun