Today is Remembrance Sunday, the day where we should all take a few moments to say our silent thank you’s to those family members, friends and comrades who have fought, and in many cases, died for Britain and for freedom. For me, there are a few people who I ‘remember’. My Grandad, who passed away when I was 3. He was a driver in the RFA in WW2 and saw action in Africa and Italy. I don’t remember him, but I have a picture of him on our wall, along with his medals.
Then there is Charlie Addington. He and his wife had 5 children at the outbreak of the first world war, and as such he was allowed to stay at home instead of joining the army. However, every 6 months or so, the call up papers came, and he went to the local courts to put his case forward – in late 1917 his wife, Alice, had just given birth to their 6th child, and was very ill, however the British Army had lost so many men on the Somme and at Passchedaele that his case was rejected and he was called up. On the 12th June 1918 Charlie was killed in action by shell fire, a week later, his wife Alice also died, leaving their 6 children, one of them my Grandfather, orphans.
Every British family has a similar story, every British person has similar silent thank you’s they wish during those 2 minutes silence. That is what makes this day so special for so many people.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)