Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Remembrance ...


This year the Remembrance Day weekend passed in a haze of thoughtfulness as to the passing of my mother, the years I spent at her bedside watching the annual National Service of Remembrance in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday.
The Cenotaph, Whitehall, London
2004 after the wreaths have been laid


The Queen, members of the Royal Family, the Government, all organisations associated with the Service forces attend the Cenotaph, hear the two minute silence ... 


... and take part in the Service and march past – laying a wreath for each person (the Queen) and related organisation – Army, Navy, Air Force, charities associated etc etc ... The whole lasts quite a few hours ... but the first part on tv is on for one and three quarter hours ...


It is always moving, we meet (on tv or the radio) family members who have lost loved ones, or members who are so appreciative of their supportive organisations helping them to rehabilitate into civilian life – I always shed a tear ...

The Annual Festival of Remembrance at the
Royal Albert Hall

The night before there is the Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance, which pays tribute to all victims of war and conflict ... all are recognised and honoured ... both of these Services are totally inclusive.


This year Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday coincide – the 11th November – up until 1945 Armistice Day (the end of World War One) was always held on 11.11 at 11.00 am – while after World War Two ... it has become customary for the Service to be held on Remembrance Sunday – the nearest to the 11th.

outside the Guards Chapel:
(The Royal Military Chapel)
on Birdcage Walk, London
"Pause to Remember"

Today all sufferers of conflict are remembered ... those that died for us, the bereaved, the families of all, those who need our care and our support ...


... the people who live but need help and adjustment ... be they blind, limbless, bereaved, homeless, suffering disability or mental disability ... all deserve our thoughts, prayers and assistance having suffered so much  for us to retain our freedom.


The poppy is an instantly
recognisable symbol of respect
for those who have made the
ultimate sacrifice in conflicts
past and present
I thought of my mother, her first husband, her brother .... and all others in similar situations – I have perhaps paid more attention to the goings on in the world ... I heard things that would have floated over my head – history has a strange way of bringing aspects home to roost.


I learnt about war, its outcome, its build up perhaps more than I’ve ever done ... I learnt to look at different countries and their attitude to war, their approach to war and how we are now ... reflection and growing old is interesting – disconcerting to say the least ... there is no-one left in the immediate family to ask those questions of ...

Military Wives choir 2010
In both Services we had hymns, prayers, uplifting music, tear-jerking moments, rich thoughtful words ...  and plenty of time for thought ...


'Follow the King'
National War Aims Committee
pamphlet 1917:
British Library Board
Last year on this day 13th November ... I learnt that the British Library is curating the “Europeana Collections 1914-1918: Remembering the World War” – available 2014 at the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.


This will be a substantial collection of material from national libraries and other partners from eight countries that found themselves on different sides of the historic conflict ...


TheBritish Library link ... with more details .. 

The www.Europeana-Collections-1914–1918.eu    
link here ... 
as quoted on this site:


A record from the Europeana collection
This material will highlight the importance of the First World War for a common European identity and be reflective of the different experiences of individuals and groups on all sides of the conflict including different ethnic, linguistic, political, social and religious communities and those opposed to the war.


It will permit new interpretations of history that go far beyond traditional military history and include artistic and cultural reinterpretation of the experiences of 1914-1918.


So at this Remembrance time ... we remember so many, so many who died or suffered so that our common life is enriched ... for our tomorrow they gave their today ....


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

44 comments:

MorningAJ said...

A very moving post Hilary.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Well put, Hilary. Thanks for sharing a little about Remembrance Day with us. It does sound like a very moving, solemn ceremony.

Lynn said...

What a perfectly wonderful service. I talked to my mother once about her memories of WWII and she said it was the best of times and the worst of times, and went on to elaborate.

Ellie Garratt said...

A moving post, Hilary. Your mum and all those that lived during the first and second world wars would be proud.

Mike Goad said...

Interesting. Here in the US, Armistice Day has evolved into Veterans day, where all military veterans are honored and remembered. We don't really have anything the corresponds to Remembrance Day to honor and remember all who died and/or honored in conflicts. But, then, we haven't had a conflict that directly affected the mainland since the civil war, which was occurring 150 years ago.

Teresa Coltrin@Journaling Woman said...

You have a wonderful caring heart. I'm glad I know through cyberspace.

T

Talli Roland said...

A wonderful post, Hilary. I heard the salute at 11 am and observed the two minutes' silence. It's so important to remember.

Janice Horton said...

Lovely post, Hilary. Lest we forget...

Janice xx

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Morning AJ .. many thanks .

@ Elizabeth - the Cenotaph morning ceremony is extremely moving - watching units of men and women marching past and recording their respect to those who died for us ... each unit laying their poppy wreath.

@ Lynn - I never did get to speak to my parents about their experiences ... my father had a terrible war, but he did get a Military Cross, though suffered much ... my mother had all the after effects of being on these shores dealing with her own grief, and then helping my father ...

@ Ellie - many thanks .. perhaps having shared so many elderlies lives recently - brings it home more to me ...

@ Mike - yes .. I can see the difference between the two countries' way of remembering ... ours was so total: an estimated total of 360,000 children were made fatherless during the 1914 -- 1918 War ... ( I read that somewhere .. seems a little low to me)...

@ Teresa - appreciate very much your comment ...

@ Talli - in Kensington/Notting Hill the salute rings out doesn't it .. so many Canadians were fighting for us too .. observing that silence is essential ... a time to remember.

@ Janice - many thanks .. being British we have that understanding, as it's symbiotic as we grow up ..

Another reason I wanted to live back in the country perhaps ...

Many thanks for your comments - I always appreciate them .. Hilary

Inger said...

Hilary, this was a beautiful tribute to your mum and to your countrymen and women who took part in these wars. Your nation suffered so much and stayed so strong.

Jo said...

Matt and I lived through the second world war, he remembers more than me as he lived in Kent and is a little older. As a boy he watched the dog fights of the Battle of Britain. Didn't know it was dangerous LOL.

We both have a lot to remember on the 11th although my father had a reasonable war, he was in Rhodesia teaching pilots and then later in Transport Command, flying in stuff from India and Africa.

Elise Fallson said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if no one ever had to live through another war again. Very touching post, Hilary.

cleemckenzie said...

Beautiful, Hilary. By honoring those no longer with us we celebrate their lives and their contributions to this world. That's such a tribute to them as well as to the human spirit. So glad I came by today.

Janie Junebug said...

Thank you for sharing your reflections and the photos. It's a beautiful post.

Love,
Janie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger - many thanks .. fortunately we held on otherwise we wouldn't be here ..

@ Jo - I think that's probably true of kids .. they never appreciate danger ... I was born after the war - I'm sure many of us have aspects of war we're not sure about, or as in your case experienced as young people.

@ Elise - oh Elise - absolutely if we could live without war of any sort - it would be brilliant

@ Lee - exactly as you say .. also we get to remember that we can help others who have suffered much ...

@ Janie - so pleased you were able to enjoy my reflections ..

Many thanks everyone - Hilary

Gattina said...

It was celebrated here too, and lots of Britts and Canadians came to Ypres to visit the "In Flanders Fields Museum", dedicated to Ypres's role in the First World War and of course the cimetaries. As our King stayed in Brussels to put a wreath there, the crownprince Philip was in Ypres.
It's also a bank holiday in Belgium.

M Pax said...

Sounds like you have way more of a marking of the day than the US does. I like the ceremonies and all. That seems fitting for what the day is about.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Beautiful post. Remembrance Sunday is such an important time. I'm always proud of the fact that even though I work in a busy gym on Sundays, everyone always stops for the two minute silence - it has quite an eerie feeling to it.

Nick Wilford said...

Wonderful post, Hilary. I'm always awestruck by what people have sacrificed (and are still doing) for us.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

These special ceremonies always leave me emotional. We have a highway in Ontario called the Highway of Heroes. For a few years now, they (vets) lined the highway in 100s of white crosses. I've only ever seen it on TV.

Beautiful post, Hilary. What the library is doing is awesome.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The festival must be amazing to behold.
There are so many things we don't absorb or understand as children. We can only hope we appreciate them once we become adults.

Heather Murphy said...

This sounds like an amazing ceremony and a great memory to have shared with your mother.

A Lady's Life said...

Well done Hilary
We should always remember.

Chuck said...

Great post as always Hilary. That sounds like a very moving ceremony. A couple observations...it is interesting the symbol of such misery in the drug world (the poppy) is such an integral part of Rememberance Day and the comment from Mike above is just a bit off, we here in the states do have a "Rememberance Day" of our own...it is called Memorial Day and occurs each May.

Deniz Bevan said...

Lovely post, Hilary. I was surprised we didn't sing I Vow To Thee My Country at this year's service. I love that hymn.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina - I've never been to the Museum or those fields at Ypres .. and one day must do so.

We don't have a Bank Holiday here - but remembrances are made at various memorials, cathedrals, Westminster Abbey (Prince Philip attended this one - the "Field of Remembrance" outside the Abbey) etc -

Many countries around the world "Remember" and bow their heads on these days ...

@ Mary - certainly the two ceremonies the Festival on Saturday night when leading military bands augment the poignancy and spirit of the occasion.

The official Service is held at the Cenotaph on Sunday morning ... when all the Forces, associated organisations are represented in a wreath-laying march past. This service means much to so many ... veterans, bereaved, heroes still with us but needing our aid via various charitable organisations

... of which the Royal British Legion is the leading charity providing financial, social and emotional support to those who have served or are currently serving in the British Armed Forces, and their dependants.

@ Annalisa - I'm pleased everyone stopped for those two minutes ... when I worked in London years ago - that silence worked wonders for our thoughts ..

@ Nick - I totally concur with you .. people sacrifice so much for us

@ Joylene - I'm like you .. especially watching quietly with my mother. The Highway of Heroes sounds an amazing place to behold at this time of Memorial .. what an evocative way of expressing their appreciation for those fallen ...

The Europeana Collection sounds as though it will be a very interesting historical collection.

@ Alex - both ceremonies are very British. Don't we continue to learn as we get older and acquire more wisdom and knowledge .. I just love acquiring that information.

@ Heather - my mother and I shared five of those ceremonies together at her bedside .. sometimes she slept - but she was grateful to have me there: and for me it's a good memory.

@ A Lady's Life - many thanks ..

@ Chuck - thank you .. both ceremonies are always fulfilling .. I agree with you re the poppy - in most countries it is regulated ... but has an interesting history and has many benefits over and above opiates. An amazing plant ..

I'm sure Mike wouldn't have meant to exclude the May Memorial Day .. he was probably referring that you don't associate Armistice Day in November with your Memorial Day - he's pretty clued up on his history ... as you obviously are too.

@ Deniz - "I vow to thee my country" is associated with Remembrance Services, but is not part of the official listing; Princess Diana had it sung at her wedding and then it was sung for her funeral ... it is a lovely hymn - I couldn't agree more ..

Cheers everyone - thanks so much for additional thoughts and comments .. Hilary



Theresa Milstein said...

I think remembrance days are so important. It honors the people left behind and makes us that much more aware of where we came from. Thanks for this lovely post.

Cheers.

Tara Tyler said...

i love that your remembrance days were the same as our veterans day this year. i'm also glad we have two days to reflect on the service of so many who are willing to fight for us.

thank you for sharing a bit of your experience.

Rosalind Adam said...

I'm not a regular weepy person but I always cry when I watch the Remembrance Day Service too. Take care.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Theresa .. I agree with you - we need to remember our forebears and those that 'helped' us get where we are allowed to be today ..

@ Tara .. we've remembered as a nation since November 1919 - which makes the Cenotaph Service so important to the nation ...

I'll keep reflecting anyway ...

@ Ros - sadly I cry at so much on tv and the cinema ... crazy really! Just sometimes so essential to release the emotion ..

Thanks Theresa, Tara and Ros - you all take care - Hilary

Patricia said...

I appreciated your reminders and history lesson. Thank you. My father was in WWII in the Navy from Canada, he rarely talked about his experience but I know it made a lasting impression on all of us.

I celebrated this year by attending a conference on Nonviolence and empowering women to take the lead...very inspiring experience and I hope I can put it to good use.

I am hoping we can stop going to war and be braver...

We had some good heartfelt services here too - It is important to remember

Ciara said...

Beautiful post, Hilary. My heart always feels heavy at the memory of those we've lost. I was lucky my dad came home after Vietnam, although not the same person. None of his friends made it.
Someday I dream of a better world with less conflict.

Stephen Tremp said...

Excellent post! I could not imagine living through the horrors of having my city bombed night after night (thinking of the London Blitz). Hopefully we'll never see this again.

And thanks for the card in the mail! Vey nice. I can start our holiday Christmas Card line with it as we tape the cards on the wall to start at the front door and weave through the house.

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh Hil! Remembering days are so critical to who we are as a human race. I truly enjoyed this beautiful post from such a wise and beautiful person as you. I'm glad you shared this with your mom. Now you have that lovely memory forever. Hugs and loves, my friend.

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Hilary. Thank you for sharing about Remembrance Day.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patricia - our parents laid our foundations for us .. and I'm thankful that mine like yours came home ..

War is hateful - thankfully we all remember, though it doesn't seem to penetrate everywhere .. violence is terrible too ..

@ Ciara - Vietnam seems to have been a particularly ugly war and losing all your friends and experiencing those horrors I'm not surprised he had changed.

Yes - a world without conflict would be extremely good ..

@ Stephen - my father's family moved out of London for war work ... but the photos of blitzed London or any bombed city are just appalling and so sad - even today in the Middle East ..

Pleasure re the card - it's a little early, but I have so much to sort out ... love the idea of mine being the first of your line of cards ... I put mine amongst my books ...

@ Robyn - yes those days with my Mama were extra special .. and she was always smiling or watching me! There are always so many to remember and continue to be so ..

@ Susanne - it's a pleasure .. I was a little late, so relieved to see my note from last year about the Europeana Collection - that will be so interesting ..

Thanks everyone - it's always good to take a few minutes out of our days to remember ... Hilary

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Wonderful post, Hilary! I'm so thankful for the sacrifice these men and women made.

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

A moving, poignant, powerful and reflective post. We shall never forget.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I believe it is so important to honor the people who put their lives on the line for us, no matter what country we are in. I have military photograph of family members on one wall in our house. My granddad declined his medals in WWII, he said he was not a hero, the people who stayed behind or were killed and injured were the heroes. Which makes me even prouder of him.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Amy - so many sacrifices by so many .. like you I'm thankful.

@ Gary - many thanks .. we all remember in some way - this year in particular the 'whole' seems to have resonated more with me.

@ Sharon - that's lovely that you have your military photographs displayed .. so they'll always be in your thoughts.

Your grandfather made a good point - the heroes are the fallen, or injured ... however those who came home were exceptional too ... thankfully they kept their lives. Your grandfather in refusing his medals must have had strong beliefs to do that .... so worth honouring.

With thoughts to you all - Hilary

juliet said...

Your mother is very present in this post, along with all those who have given their lives to help others.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Juliet .. yes I agree with you - I do relate to the things I think about back to my mother and family in general - it's a new realisation of feeling and experience ...

Good to see you - enjoy your Spring weekend .. tomorrow we're due for a sunny Sunday .. Hilary

Connie Arnold said...

This is such a lovely post, Hilary. Thank you for what you have shared. It is very touching.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Connie .. many thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed my words ... this year I certainly thought more deeply about Remembrance and Remembrance Day itself .. good to see you - Happy Thanksgiving .. Hilary