In the United Kingdom Remembrance Sunday is our day “to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts”. It is held on the second Sunday in November, the Sunday nearest to 11 November, Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m. in 1918.
Remembering and commemorating the many hundreds of thousands of people whose lives were ended prematurely in conflict should never be allowed to fall from our national consciousness. Indeed recent conflicts appear to have triggered a resurgence of interest and respect as we remember those whose lives have been lost in the Middle East in this current generation.
Remembrance is not about glorifying war; it is worth remembering that all warfare is in essence ‘failure’. The failure of one or both sides in a potential conflict situation to maintain peace, to negotiate, compromise, explore other alternatives and strive for the common good. Sadly as history has proved, despite all warfare being a failure, some wars are unavoidable and sadly necessary in order to preserve freedom.
In the West, we can so easily take for granted the many freedoms that people have fought to protect in the past. Unless we experience a very direct real threat to our safety and freedom, (as those who lived through World war II did), many of us simply cannot put ourselves in the shoes of those who did experience such threats. Yet the freedoms we enjoy today came at a price.
Whilst freedom should involve being able to live our lives in relative peace and security, without living in dread fear of invasion by cruel dictator, Remembrance gives us that one opportunity each year, to stop and reflect on what could have been if our nation had succumbed in the past to tyranny. A chance to say ‘thank you’ to those who gave their lives back then, and to those in the present age, who are willing to fight for our nation and preserve our way of life.