Lest We Forget

Since you’ve been gone, I, like so many others around the world, have been remembering 100 years of the armistice that ended the Great War.

I have been very fortunate to live a life of freedom and peace. It is impossible for me to comprehend the true horrors of war. The fact that I am able to make both of those statements is because of the sacrifice of so many brave men and women – not only in the First World War, but also in the Second. And not only in those two conflicts, either. Amazingly, despite the danger, implied and real, of the profession they choose, men and women still sign up for our armed forces. I don’t particularly care whether or not it’s politically correct to say so, but I for one am grateful that there are still people who are willing to put their lives on the line for my sake.

No one wants war. Well, not unless you count the despotic and tyrannical regimes who didn’t – and never will – get the peace memo. Because that’s the point. Much as I would love it if all disagreements could be resolved over a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit, we have to accept that not everyone is in the business of minding their own business. Some people still want to impose their will and extend their borders. And they don’t care how they do that. Or how many people they harm in the process.

We still need our armed forces and we still need the brave personnel required to keep them – and potentially us – alive. And we still need to spend at least one day a year reflecting on the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf.

Not everyone has to agree with me. We’re all allowed differing opinions and the beauty of living in our free society is that we are able to voice them. The growing number of people who do not advocate the promotion of wearing a poppy (hello Cambridge University) are quite at liberty to express that view and are certainly not compelled to wear one against their will. Guess what. We have the very people we are remembering today to thank for that freedom.

Wearing a poppy and/ or commemorating Armistice Day does not glorify war. Quite the reverse. It is a sobering reflection on the horrors of the reality of war, and should help us to continue to work hard to avoid it.

Today, I am honoured to remember a grandfather I never met and a father with whom I didn’t have nearly enough time. I am proud that both of them served their country – in wartime, and in peace.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

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