Remembrance

As we get closer to Remembrance Day, more and more readers will be adorning poppies to remember those who lost their lives in conflict.
 
There is a certain piquancy to this year’s Remembrance Day. As well as remembering those who died in the conflict which began a century ago, we remember also those troops who lost their lives in Afghanistan. Last week, British forces withdrew from Helmand province, drawing a 13 year engagement to a close.
 
While there are very few people still alive in this country who are able to remember the events of 1914, it is important that future generations do not forget the sacrifice made by men and women for this country. Some readers will have friends or family who have served in recent years overseas, but many will not – which is why I always wear a poppy.
 
Wearing a poppy is a comparatively modest symbol of respect and remembrance when one considers the sacrifice we are commemorating. Vast numbers of people from across the world who have visited the Tower of London to see the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, an installation of 888, 246 ceramic poppies, and it has been quite an experience.
 
However, perhaps inevitably, comma, it has led to traffic chaos in the capital and created huge queues of visitors. Whether they are there to pay respect or simply to see what is a magnificent tribute to those who gave their lives, it is heartening to see that their stories live on.
 
Last week, I had the pleasure of joining some constituents to sell poppies, and every year I am inspired by the generosity of those I meet. At the weekend, I will be at the Cenotaph for the Remembrance Sunday service which is always a humbling and moving occasion.
 
The contrast between the ordinarily bustling Central London and the solemnity of Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday is most poignant. For those of us present – and the many millions at home watching on their television – the two minute silence, in absolute stillness, is a simple mark of reverential commemoration.
 
It is a moment of personal reflection, but also a moment of unity: the uniqueness of the event bonds us to one another in remembrance.
 
However you choose to observe Remembrance Day, it is important that the enormity of the debt of gratitude we owe to our armed forces – both past and present – is remembered, both now and for generations to come.
 
 
First published in Bucks Free Press