Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

That’s a picture of my Grandpa - Joseph Edward Killingback, a man of whom I am very proud. Like millions of other boys, he headed off to fight for freedom and democracy in 1914. I remember him telling me about the war - leaving out the worst bits, but still conveying a sense of just how terrible it was. His commanding officer was the man who gave him his first razor. The first time he shaved was in a trench in France. He talked about rats, and trench foot, bully beef, and how “sometimes the food wagons didn’t get through”. He was only seventeen when he was wounded on the Somme, near Amiens, but he was lucky. He came home. Millions of boys, men and women never did. .

Sadly, today many service-people are still losing their lives fighting for our freedom. We see their coffins draped in flags on the news, and it somehow seems unreal. But how real, how terrible it must be for those who love them. How awful that anyone has to die and be brought home in a coffin draped in a flag. We owe them so much gratitude and respect, it is indescribable.

Then there are those who do come home alive, but for whom everything is forever changed. The wounded, permanently disabled, and those with mental scars that may never heal. That is before we discuss the families who lost and are losing loved ones and those who wait at home and pray. There are millions of these wonderful souls all over the world, doing something amazing for us every day by “keeping the home fires burning” and being braver than I can ever imagine having to be.

My days can be pretty busy and chaotic, but I know what I will be doing at 11am today. It’s the same thing I have done every year since I can remember - wherever I was, whatever I was doing.

I will stop, and remember the millions of people who fought and are fighting for my freedom. I will remember those who died and those who live - and their families - and I will say a silent thank you.

Because of them my husband and I grew up safe and free. Because of them our son can too. I owe them a far greater debt than I can ever repay. The least I can do is spend two tiny minutes silently paying tribute to them. I hope you will too.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.”

Laurence Binyon 1869-1943