The sun was shining in Bournemouth this morning, the 11th November 2018, one hundred years since the signing of the Armistice agreement that ended the first world war. On a spur of the moment decision I decided to get on my bike and cycle to the town centre, in time for the Remembrance Day parade. Bournemouth always hosts a parade, of war veterans, marching bands, Cadets, Scouts and Guides. The remembrance service is held in the town’s Middle Gardens, beside the war memorial.
I have been to many remembrance day parades over the years. From when I was a child and teenager in Brownies and Guides, to being the mum of two sons who went through the Scout movement. I’ve stood in the same spot I was in today, accompanying the parade, sometimes in pouring rain with only a handful of veterans and other Scout mums watching.
The turnout today was very different. I guess the weather helped – but there were certainly more marching than I’ve ever seen through streets closed to traffic, and many, many more ordinary people following, trying to find vantage points from where they could listen to the service.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.
It was, as always, very moving. I can’t hear the Last Post without a tear in my eye. The start and end of the two minute silence was announced by the firing of a large gun, which caused all the local bird population, all the pigeons and starlings, to take to the air. So during the silence the sky was filled with birds wheeling around like souls of lost servicemen. The only sound was that of a baby’s innocent crying – a member of a generation who I hope will never know war or fear or want.
The service was multi-denominational, with readings from several different churches, Rabbis and non-religious leaders. Its message was that of the continuous need to strive for peace.
Peace begins with respect. If we cannot accept a world of human difference we will never enjoy a world of peace.
Peace needs co-operation. If we realise that most of what we desire cannot be secured by ourselves alone we will cultivate friendship.
Let our tribute to those of all beliefs who have suffered and died in conflict be our resolve to work for peace.
(The words quoted above were part of a reading on behalf of the Defence Humanists for non-religious people in the armed forces.)
At the risk of alienating some blog-readers by ending this post on a slightly political note, I could not help but think about the aims of the EU, as stated in the Lisbon treaty. Its number one goal is to “promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples”.