Remembering (Pt2)

Sunday Reflection

8th November 2020

'what does Remembrance Sunday mean to you?'

I was not around to serve in WW2!
I was born the year it ended
so I remember very little
of the aftermath,
except sweet rationing!

But my father was a colour sergeant
in the Royal Marines and,
although he spoke very little
about the war,
he was proud to have served
on the HMS Ajax
in the Battle of the River Plate;
but he always had problems
in facing the fact
that he had survived whilst others,
many friends, had died.

I think it made him more aware
of how precious life is.

My Grandfather was too old
to fight in WW2 but he fought
in North Africa as one of the
7th Armoured Division 'Desert Rats' in WW1.

So I wear my poppy with pride,
not to glorify war
but to acknowledge and remember
these gallant men and women
who were prepared to give their lives
in the defence of their country.

Remembrance Sunday, through them,
has always been very special for me.

But what does Remembrance Sunday
mean to you?

Which wars and conflicts
do you think about today?
Are you remembering family
from WW2 dead, wounded;
friends, family, comrades
from the Falklands, Northern Ireland,
the Gulf conflicts?

Perhaps you know of someone
serving in conflict zones today.

Remembrance has naturally
moved on from the first
two world wars
which gave rise to this memorial,
though, of course, they still count;
but if remembrance is
to mean anything,
then we have to move on with it.

Did you know that since 1945,
the end of the Second World War,
there has only been two years
when no members of the
British Armed Forces
have been killed in active service.

Only two years!
1968, shortly before the
deployment of British troops to
Northern Ireland during the Troubles
and 2016, (confirmed by MoD).

And this is in a period we call peace time!

Since the end of the Second World War
there have been conflicts in
Korea, Suez, the Middle East,
and Northern Ireland
has been a constant trouble spot
for as long as I can remember.

More recently our forces have been killed
in action in the South Atlantic,
the Gulf, The Falkland's, in Africa
and it's still happening today
in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's as if, although we remember,
we learn nothing from our past;
because if we did
we would make more of an effort
to avoid war and the causes of war.

If we could only follow Jesus' teachings
'Love one another' as he commands.
If we all did this then wars would cease -
it seems that,
as a species it doesn't matter,
we don't really care what happens
as long as someone else does the dying.

That statistic about only two years
without a death is a reminder
of just how fragile peace is.
I remember a former
Archbishop of Canterbury,
Robert Runcie talking about war,
he was awarded the Military Cross
during WW2 -
(yes, he was there on the battle field.
Don't think all clergy sit comfortably
in their ivory towers!).

He said war is always a sign
of human failure.
It means more peaceful solutions
have broken down
or not been tried properly.

So where does that leave us?
Until the day when the world
is united in peace -
we will look back on
all who have died in conflict;
men and women
who died for what is right and good.

But also,
those who died for
what they thought was right and good.
Those who died bravely.
Those who died confused.
Those who died betrayed.
Those who died suddenly.
Those who died in agony.
Those who died alone.

Everyone who has died
in wars and conflicts
must be remembered.

Every one of them
was some mother's child.
Every one of them,
God's creation.


We need to acknowledge
the horror of war
and to take up the torch
and dedicate ourselves
once more to living in such a way
that we do not break faith
with those who died
to bring peace to the world.

This is a time to commit ourselves
once again to the struggle against evil -
the struggle against
the very things to lead to war
in the first place.

How do we do this?

By living in the way that
God meant us to live -
by working for freedom
and with the intention
of preserving that freedom,
and by doing all that makes
for perpetual freedom -
and for perpetual peace.

By doing justice,
and loving mercy,
and walking humbly with God.