Today is Remembrance Day and each year I take Chick to the Sunday Remembrance Day Parade as I think it’s important for her to acknowledge the sacrifice of previous generations and to realise how damn lucky she actually is. I’ve been attending various services ever since I was in my late Teens but some of my friends don’t agree with my point of view on this subject which is absolutely fine. I have no intention of upsetting anyone with my point of view and I’m not about to argue with anyone who doesn’t think the Remembrance is worthwhile but I have several reasons for wanting to remember.
Both my Grandfathers were in the Army during the years of National Service that followed WW2. My Great Uncle fought in World War Two and My American Dad was in the Air Force. For three years in my early Twenties I worked alongside the British Army in Germany and I’m proud to be friends still with some of these guys. Part of my reason for the Remembrance is because of the guys and gals above. I want them to know that I’m grateful that they are prepared to lay down their lives for us, even for wars or causes that they don’t believe in and that some of us in England do care and do appreciate that they are stuck in hellish conditions in Afghanistan.
It bothers me that the Labour government got us into this and we cannot even afford to send the Troops out with the proper military kit to help them survive. Sub standard boots, trucks that are neither use nor ornament and not enough air support as the helicopters we need are stuck in a hangar somewhere. Two years ago a charity was set up by Bryn and Emma Parry called ‘Help for Heroes’ to help wounded Personnel get the support that they need. It’s quite well supported in England but we shouldn’t fu**ing need it. The government should be providing the wounded with all the help they need not leaving it to the fundraising abilities of the good British people.
Today whilst our Country was remembering our fallen, a small minority Muslim protesters burning a model of a poppy alongside messages like:
"British soldiers burn in hell"
"Islam will dominate"
"Our dead are in paradise, your dead are in hell".
Now I completely understand that this is a very, very small minority but what I say to this is....leave England. I'm sure that most of these Guys probably were English but if you don't like the way this Country is run, our values, us remembering our dead soldiers then move. You try living in Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia.....anywhere that you feel fits in with your belief system but don't dare tell me that my friends are burning in hell and that yours are in Paradise.
When I first moved back to England from Germany, I went back to school and did a History course. As part of that course we visited the Battlefields of the First World War. Before we left I read everything that I could get my hands on relating to the war. I cannot even begin to describe how heart wrenching the trip was. At all the (huge) memorials there is just row upon row upon row of names of the dead. We visited the Town of Ypres and the Menin Gate Memorial where each night at 8pm the last post is played and you can’t help but be moved, in fact it just sends a shiver down my spine!! It’s only in recent years that I can bear to read anything about the conditions they fought in, so profound was the trip.
Last year for the first time World War One went from living memory to history after our last surviving soldiers from WW1 Henry Allingham and Harry Patch died. We may have none of them left but I will always remember them and the guys that they had to leave behind buried in mud on Flanders fields and I want to part of the movement that keeps their memory alive.
So this is why I want to remember and why Chick and I both bought poppies on the day the campaign started. Each time I open a paper and read about more deaths I’m always half expecting it to be someone I knew in the past and for this reason we always wear our poppies.
"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"
John Maxwell Edmonds
*I originally posted most of this last year but when I re-read it for inspiration thought it was already good enough :-)