On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the First World War came to an end. It was the costliest war ever fought in terms of lives lost. It was to be the war that ended all wars. The first remembrance commemorations were held on the second Sunday in November in 1919 with artificial poppies being used to remember those who had lost their lives. The poppies growing in the fields in Flanders in France were chosen by the British Legion to remember the cost of the terrible war. Every town and village built their own Cenotaph to remember the local personnel who lost their lives. The Second World War was declared on the 3rd September 1939.
I’ve set aside time to find out how the national commemorations will take place this year. In spite of the ongoing restrictions, and now a month’s lockdown, the commemorations will be going ahead, albeit differently. The Festival of Remembrance has been pre-recorded by the BBC with all the participants within the boundaries of social distancing. Church services will be conducted using YouTube, and the Cenotaph will have restricted personnel of Royalty, the Armed Forces and government officials. I have admired the ingenuity and resourcefulness of those responsible for the act of remembrance. The British Legion has come up with simple ideas for the public to replace the sale of poppies. They have sold cards to colour in, encouraged poppy-making competitions and the decorating of windows and properties as a visual expression of the sentiment ‘Lest we forget’. Tomorrow at 11.00 am, and on Wednesday at 7.00 pm we’re being encouraged to stand on our doorsteps for two minutes of silence as a mark of respect and honour to those who’ve fallen. It reminded me of the 7.00 pm Clap for Carers during the first lockdown caused by coronavirus.
I wonder how we will remember the effects of coronavirus, a pandemic that affected rich and poor, great and small. It is all too easy when there is relative peace in this world and opportunities to enjoy its beauties and pleasures to forget the tragic consequences of war, famine, pestilence and disease. In the sobering moments of today, let us take time to find out if someone close by has a need that isn’t so obvious. In discovering this, are we able to do anything about it? Have we the ingenuity and resources that can be utilised to make life better for ourselves and others? Can we show our gratitude by making a kindly difference in someone else’s life?