WE WILL REMEMBER THEM; the important words that we must ensure we stand by. This is a plea to ensure the memories live on.
Sadly there are no longer any known surviving veterans of the first World War and each year, the number of surviving veterans from the Second World War dwindles.
These of course are the wars that we traditionally think of when we think of Armistice Day; but we must also remember those that have served their country and sadly lost their lives since the end of the Second World War.
A visit to the National Memorial Arboretum will allow you to see the Armed Forces Memorial; the UK’s tribute to over 16,000 men and women who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorist action since 1948 to the present day. The unfortunate thing about the memorial is to see that names are added annually to the giant Portland stone walls.
I have not seen active service myself; but family members have served in both world wars and I hold those that have served with the upmost respect. I do what I can each year to ensure that their memory lives on and I have travelled around France and Belgium to pay my respects; this is something I will personally ensure I maintain with my own child.
Standing at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, where at 8pm each evening as the bugle plays the Last Post, I defy anyone to not have a tear in their eye as they think of those that have died.
Especially as your eyes scan the names of the 54,395 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Ypres Salient but whose bodies have never been identified or found. Finding a relatives name on the memorial makes it all the more poignant.
Walking in to Tyne Cot War Graves Cemetery near Passchendale, Belgium and seeing almost 12,000 uniformed headstones, where rank does not distinguish, is nothing short of breath taking. It is an unbelievable sight that you cannot imagine unless you see it with your own eyes.
Row upon row of head stones as far as the eye can see, which are surrounded by a stone wall which makes up the Tyne Cot Memorial of the Missing, one of several Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorials to the Missing along the Western Front. It’s tragic to think that so many died and never had their bodies found that upon completion of the Menin Gate, builders discovered it was not large enough to contain all the names as originally planned. The memorial contains the names of 33,783 soldiers of the UK forces.
You don’t however, have to travel around Europe to pay your respects, I just ask that each year, you continue to make the effort. This is a personal plea to ask that you also ensure that the memories live on, and are passed on to your future generations. Please don’t let them forget.