This November is a hugely significant month.
At 11.00 a.m. on the 1th November (“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”) we will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. With military and civilian deaths of some 19 million people, it was at the time the worst carnage in human history. Called “the War to end all Wars”, it sadly was the precursor to the Second World War in which a staggering 60 million people – soldiers, sailors and aircrew along with many in the civilian populations – lost their lives.
It all seems incredible now, and – living comfortable and sheltered lives – we are protected from the reality of what happened then & what in some traumatic parts of the world still happens now.
At all three of our Plurality Churches we will be holding Acts of Commemoration in the morning. Then, in Holy Cross, we will at 3.00 p.m. be holding the Town’s Civic Act of Remembrance followed later in Victoria Pleasure Grounds by the lighting of a beacon bonfire with the reading out the list of the fallen, doused torches representing their individual lives, hopes and aspirations being snuffed out as the names are called, one by one.
It will be a powerful reminder of those who “gave their today for our tomorrow” as the Kohima epitaph puts it. It reminds us of the men and women in our current armed forces who risk their lives for our safety and community. It also reminds us of present conflicts, of the millions of lost and displaced people whose lives have been shattered by contemporary civil war and hatred.
As Christians we are called to commemorate the dead but also remember the living who need our care, our support and our prayers, not just for those far away but for those of our own communities in the here and now.
In Laurence Binyon’s words which will again re-echo at the heart of our Memorials –
Love Fr. John