I wore my paper poppy in church today, a sea of other poppies faced me during a touching service which gives us the time to remember those who have died in war over the years.
I do not have any close memories of war, I’ve never had a friend, relation or lover go to war or die in war past or present. I count myself lucky in that. But many of the people in church today were thinking of loved ones lost, and I keenly felt their grief.
We stood outside in the whipping cold wind, the sky grey and overcast and we remembered them. I stood huddled with my friend, she is 86 and very much remembers the Second World War and it’s atrocities. She knows loss and as we clung together I looked at the Lichgate.
The Lichgate is a war memorial and on its walls are written are the names of men lost on both wars who lived in the Parish. To me they are only names, but they were fathers and sons and brothers as well as friends, husbands and boyfriends and their passing will have been felt keenly. I felt but a second of that as I stood there, thinking in the cold. Tears rolled down my cheeks in sadness.
I remember in secondary school reading Journey’s End by RC Sheriff in English Class. I played Stanhope, though we just sat in our seats to read it. It is a play set in the trenches in France back in the First World War. It’s a fascinating look into the emotions and feelings of these officers from loyalty to pride, to hopelessness and loneliness and fear.
I was deeply affected by it at the time, appalled by the reality of war. I always remember that play on Remembrance Day. For me, it was just words, a story but for many people it was reality, it was how they lived and how they died. Today I remember those people as I look down at my blood red poppy. I remember them with thankfulness. I remember them with sadness.
We will remember them, always.