Here we are, looking forward to Christmas and all the festivities that go with it. Well, I’m not going to write about Christmas in this article. If you browse back through my blogs, you’ll find one about Christmas, now about a year old.
No, today, I’m going back one month to give you my impressions of the day of remembrance, for those who have lost their lives in the wars since 1914. In the UK, it’s a day of solemnity, but carried out with much ‘pomp and circumstance’. Almost everybody throughout the land wears a poppy on the left hand lapel of their jackets, etc.
The poppy is a red flower, which grew in profusion in Flanders (Belgium), an area of great and destructive military action, in the first world war. It was said that the poppy can lie dormant for many years, until the earth around it is disturbed. Emotionally, the poppy became a symbol of death. The poppy worn today are artificial replicas, which are sold to the public, in the streets, cafes, shops; almost everywhere where people go.
The money collected (£ millions) goes to a charity organisation, to be used for ex-soldiers, who are in financial or health difficulties. Every year at 11 a.m., on the 11th of November, an impressive ceremony takes place in London, at the Cenotaph, the main national memorial. The Queen and other royalty, politicians and heads of state from many Commonwealth countries, attend and lay their wreaths of poppies at the monument. All this is accompanied by military music, marching ex-soldiers with their regimental flags flying – all televised around the UK. Similar ceremonies take place in towns and villages throughout the country.
Well, this year, at that time, I was in a small town, in the south of Germany, visiting my wife’s family and I went with them to the local church, where at 11.a.m. there was also a service of remembrance. There were two priests; one Catholic and the other Protestant. Several people from other nationalities stood side by side with Germans. There was perfect harmony between them. Without any ‘pomp and circumstance’, except for the local brass band, which played solemn music most beautifully; the dead and injured were beautifully remembered, not only of Germany and not only of the military. All those effected, from all walks of life and from all countries and creeds, were remembered. I was impressed. Now, I had experienced another side of remembering the tragedies of war.Then I asked myself the burning question:
Why? What have we gained from this repeated slaughtering of millions of our peoples? We could answer, that war creates new technical and scientific developments, which are often big assets for peacetime life. Radar is a good example. But at the cost of all the misery of war? And I thought that unfortunately, it is in the nature of humans to make war, and that probably it will never change. Especially as long as we have different country frontiers, languages and religions (and politicians?).
Yes, 11 a.m. on the 11th day of November, can be a deeply sad day. That is unless you live in the Rhineland, where it is the trigger that starts the festivities of carnival!
solemn(ity) – serious
lapel - part of collar
profusion - large amount
dormant - sleeping
replica - copy
wreath – circular arrangement of flowers
creeds - forms of religion
trigger - part of a gun, pulled by a finger(verb. to start, to activate)