I attended the Remembrance ceremony at the local memorial this afternoon and was somewhat surprised by the turn out. I expected a few dozen and possibly a thousand or two were there. As expected the local dignitaries, mayor, leading men, armed forces representatives and British Legion personnel attended, prayers were said, and wreaths laid. A march to the church followed and we all went home. A few individual servicemen were there and I wondered what they thought of such memorials? After all one day they might appear on them? Perfect respect was made by the people, and as I glanced at the ages of civilian men wearing medals from recent actions I wondered how many were remembering comrades who have died and remain real to them today. The vicar gave a few words, and I found it somewhat grating when he talked of the men fighting for 'righteousness,' that may well have been for some but not for all. There appears to be an unwillingness to talk honestly at such services, platitudes appear to be the thing to do. Behind him are the names of around 200 men who fell in the Great War he could at least have mentioned one or two by name. False religion does not convey truth to the people and I was disappointed with this.
Remembrance like this began with the loss of 750,000 lives during the Great War, around 300,000 still missing after all these years. Humans require a place to mourn their dead and the Cenotaph in London and the Stone of Remembrance in Edinburgh became places for mourning, both private and official. Within ten years memorials were to be found throughout the UK and well attended each Armistice Day. No 'jingoism' is found here, and today many remember enemies as well as friends during such meetings. Whether those who fought the 'taliban' feel this way is open to debate, but that will come in time. Predominately we mourn or commemorate our own but all war dead, worldwide, can be remembered at times like these. War will always occur, and peace is not possible for humanity but we can do our best to avoid war and if not we can at least remember those who fall.
Those who fell are often known to have sacrificed themselves for others. The pilots who kept an aircraft in the air why the crew bail out, the few who hold to the last man a position to allow their comrades to withdraw, the small escort sloop which turns towards an enemy battleship to protect a convoy are said to have 'laid down their life for their friends.' Such self sacrifice is not uncommon in war, and not always from those we would expect to be 'hero's.' Most are just men, young men at that, who respond to a situation and give themselves for others. No wonder we remember such men, even if they receive no official reward. What sort of man lays down his life for another? Duty, comradeship, are at least to reasons and I suspect those who act this way do not do so because they have planned such an end. Jesus at least knew his end when he offered his life for his friends. Duty and pure love made him lay down his life for us all, and we were, and still are some of us, all enemies of him, yet he gave himself anyway. This thought always comes to me at such remembrances. It is easy to die for comrades some would say but it is another thing altogether to love your enemies and give yourself for them. That is worth remembering.