Remembrance day is the day on which I feel most proud of the country I was born into. I know our culture is not alone in remembering the fallen in war, I know we are not unique in our solemn reflections on this day but nevertheless I am proud to be part of a society that unites every year to honour the memory of men and women who fought and died.
When this tradition of two minute silences began people used the time to remember faces and names. They remembered brothers, fathers, friends and neighbours. They remembered the loss of every community that was left standing because of the soldier’s efforts.
A hundred year separation prevents me from seeing these faces when I go silent during those two minutes at 11 o’clock today. I am part of a younger generation and our remembrance is different from the raw grief and mourning felt by those who first practiced this custom every November 11th.
Instead here is what I remember.
I remember being taught that the average life expectancy of a soldier on the front lines was 42 days.
I remember studying Dulce et Decorum Est and being haunted by the line about blood and ‘froth-corrupted lungs’
I remember friends my age who have served and are still serving. I pray that God will keep them safe.
I remember that nearly every town and village in our country has a public monument to their sons who fell.
I remember that as a Country we have chosen to remember them; that we have decided that this is important, that we have persevered throughout the last century to consider and respectfully reflect on the devastating cost of war as a nation.
I remember the ones left behind, who manned the home front during the two world wars. I remember the women who rose up and took their place. I remember children who grew up too fast and parents who grew old quickly under weariness.
I remember a picture of a field of poppies in an old school textbook.
I remember that even though the country was hurt and grieving, they still entered into World War Two and faced horror all over again.
I remember that people were rescued, liberated and saved because of that.
I remember that they were brave.
I remember that it cost them everything.
I remember and I thank them.