November is here, and in two weeks’ time we commemorate Remembrance Sunday. Many will gather at local memorials; others will reflect quietly at home.
During WWI, given the huge numbers killed it was decided that the dead were to be buried where they fell. There were also very many who were never found or identified. The building of local memorials gave families a focal point to remember their loved ones in the absence of a grave. These memorials also recognised, for the first time, the immense cost paid by ordinary men and boys who volunteered to serve – their names permanently engraved in stone in their local communities for all to see.
This was “the Great War”, the “war to end all wars”, but then WWII happened. In many cases, the names of another generation of men and boys were added to these stone memorials, and they too would be remembered every year on Remembrance Sunday.
Sadly, since then there have been further conflicts resulting in loss of life or permanent disability. We no longer add names to the local stones but we never-the-less remember the costs paid by young men and women who have and do serve their country.
And, of course, civilians are often targeted too: some as they go about their daily lives, others as they endeavour to keep those around them safe.
As we gather around these solitary Standing Stones in our respective villages on Remembrance Sunday, there continues to be much to be remembered as we reflect upon the values and traditions of freedom, human dignity and peace that motivate those who serve on our behalf.
Revd Ann Bol
Shingay Group of Churches