I’ve been attending Remembrance Sunday events since I was a youngster in the Boys Brigade. It’s one of those things I still look forward to all these years later, unlike some who see world wars as having happened a long time ago and ignore such traditions as belonging in the past and nothing to do with them.
Armistice Day first took place after the First World War, to commemorate the end of that awful conflict, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Many people still observe it today, stopping for a two-minute silence to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. This year I was proud to spend it with staff and pupils at Swanshurst Girls School and a dwindling but determined bunch of veterans who have served this country well. The respect shown by those girls was something of which we should all feel proud.
A former Archbishop of Westminster is credited with conceiving of Remembrance Sunday which he saw as an opportunity to honour the dead of two world wars as well as other conflicts. There’s so much sacrifice and bravery to remember, including the Falklands (40th anniversary this year), Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, and various peace keeping missions around the globe.
This year has taken on a new significance as British troops, although not currently committed to any conflict, are on high alert as we witness the horrors of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It was a topic of conversation among several of those I joined for West Midlands Travel (Birmingham) Sports & Social Society’s Remembrance Sunday. I enjoyed spending the day with these people. Their history is rich in tales of bravery, lost comrades, and local feats of derring-do as they fought to protect buses at Yardley Wood depot from Luftwaffe bombs.
It’s easy to take freedom for granted but different if the tanks roll in and take it from you. Wearing a poppy, observing the 2-minute silence and commemorating those who gave their todays for our tomorrows is a small price to pay. I look forward to many more Remembrance Sundays.