Sunday, 10 November 2013

Radio Shropshire Remembrance Sunday

95 years ago today in 1918, at  the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - the First World War came to an end.. It is thought that about 9 million soldiers lost their lives, and about 27 million were wounded - many of them permanently disabled
So today we mark Remembrance Sunday a day to stop reflect and in the case of many people to give thanks to God for those who have given their lives not just in the 2 great wars of the last century,  but in many other conflicts as well including most  recently Iraq and Afghanistan, and Today I wear the  poppy not with pride but with a deep humility as I think about the awful loss of life and the continuing suffering and the deep pain of those left behind  and I will pray for peace with justice to come to the earth

I am also deeply thankful for the continuing committed indeed heroic work of The Royal British Legion who produce the red poppy that so many millions wear -an appropriate symbol  because a poppy grows so well in disturbed earth ripped open by war and was  one of the few things that would grow in the barren battlefields of The Somme and Ypres

In fact next year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War and the government has announced this centenary is to be marked by a four year programme of events that will commemorate that war- The events range from church services to educational visits
Many have questioned how appropriate this commemoration is In fact I heard this being discussed on the Jim Hawkins show last Monday morning
Some feel it is an unnecessary glorification of war
Others that it is a colossal waste of money
Others that in 2013 it is simply irrelevant to how we live today

Now anyone who celebrates war is plain daft  to put it very mildly but I have no problem with commemoration because we should never forget
The words at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them have authentic power ,for as someone once said If we fail to learn the lessons of the past we will be condemned to repeat them
A few years ago I visited the grave of a man I had never met His name was Fred Watson he was actually my mother’s uncle as a young man Fred  had emigrated to Canada from the family home in Scotland but at the outbreak of war he had out of a sense of duty come back to fight

in 1916 he was killed near Sanctuary Wood and unusually his grave is in Zillebecke Parish Church near Ypres
Today I will remember Fred and his brother Stan who died at Loos and whose body was never found and I will think of my dad who survived the Second World War but was forever changed by it
And thousands of you will have similar memories and some  of your memories  will be much more recent and far more personal
But even if you don’t have personal memories of those who gave their lives   their names are around wherever you are in Shropshire

 if  today you should you pass a war memorial whether in Tilstock or Telford ,Condover or Clun select one of the names engraved on those memorials and remember they too had hopes and dreams  ambitions and desires  before their  lives were cut so tragically  short

The writer Rudyard Kipling author of The Jungle Book was enthusiastic about  the outbreak of war and wrote pamphlets encouraging young men to join up and fight  he used his influence to get his own son John into the army despite the fact that John  was severely short sighted and had failed the medicals on more than one occasion

Tragically John too was killed at Loos and Johns body was never found and Kipling’s attitude to war was changed forever  It is Kipling who composed the words on every war memorial where the body of the deceased could not be identified  the inscription contains just 3 words Known unto God

As a Christian I believe every human being is Known unto God made in His image  we should  all seek to live a life that brings Gods love and peace to the people we come into contact with day by day

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