Remembrance Day 2018



Sunday 11th November is Remembrance Day and also the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War. Along with other occasions it is a time when we remember the unbelievable courage and heroism of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the First and Second World Wars, and wars that have occurred since.


But we must remember other things as well, which will in no way diminish our remembrance of those who gave their lives on our behalf. We must remember the terrible suffering, the grief, the anguish, the physical and mental agonies, the brutality, the whole unimaginable horror.


For our remembrance to be truly meaningful we need to feel more than the emotion that stirs within us because we are sharing a familiar ritual in the presence of other people and because it has a strong patriotic element to it. We need to do more than stand in silence for two minutes, listen to the last post being played, or sing O God our help in ages past, however moving such practices may be.


Somehow, all of us individually, in our own way, should try, at some point during the day, to

make the mental and emotional effort to feel just a small amount of what it must have been like in the trenches, or on the D-Day beaches, or coming under fire in Korea, the Falklands or Iraq. It will be impossible to come anywhere near to experiencing the realities of war but bringing to mind real or imagined situations will help us understand something of the courage required in battle and the suffering that was endured by those who engaged in the fighting.1


We must pay tribute to the courage of those who fought for our country, honour their sacrifice and remember their suffering. And when we have done this we must, as individuals and as a society, commit ourselves to building a future world in which the horrors of war belong to a remembrance of the past.  


At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them.




 1   One way, perhaps, of trying to feel the horror of war without actually experiencing it, is to do what I’ve just done: watch some film footage of the First World War and reflect on the fact that everyone you see in combat was a real person from a real family who had led a real life. Another way is to immerse oneself in a fictional account of warfare. I recall being deeply affected, some time ago now, by reading Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong which contains an incredibly powerful evocation of life in the trenches.


See also: The humanity of history and The hundredth anniversary of Passchendaele.


The War Memorial is at East Brent in Somerset.