Wear your poppy for all who have suffered

The nation will remember those killed in service of their country this weekend.
The nation will remember those killed in service of their country this weekend.

This week sees the annual remembrance ceremonies taking place around the town and at sea. And, of course, all round the country.

A couple of months or so before the end of the Second World War a young boy was watching out of the front window of his house, looking for his father coming home from work in Woolwich Arsenal.

Suddenly the boy’s world literally fell around him in a cloud of dust and rubble as the house collapsed.

A V2 rocket had landed just across the road. The boy heard his mother calling as she searched the dust-filled house for him. Then he was in her arms, being carried out of the rubble, down the road to a neighbour’s house.

The ambulances arrived and the boy’s head was swathed in bandage as he was bleeding profusely.

In those days there were no paramedics and ambulances were equipped only to carry people to hospital, the crews trained only in basic first aid.

In due course, the ambulance arrived at a casualty receiving station at the local hospital. Once cleaned up it was seen that the injuries were not serious, just a few cuts and bruises. Amazingly there was only one fatality.

Yes, I was that boy. But what is the point of this rambling reminiscence?

Well, we are being asked this week to remember.

The focus is, quite properly, on the members of our armed forces who have died in action over the past nearly 100 years.

But, let us not forget the thousands, possibly millions, of civilians who died or were injured, some quite severely, as a result of the various wars which have raged worldwide throughout our history.

Nor let us forget the families of those service men and women, many of whom live with loss of a loved one, or, perhaps even more difficult, now live with a loved one who is disabled, physically or mentally.

We Brits, or perhaps I should say “English”, are quite good at remembering battles, especially those which we won!

Each year Trafalgar Day features in our diaries.

The British fleet, under Nelson, suffered about 1,500 casualties, whereas the French/Spanish fleet suffered about 16,000.

A couple of weeks ago there were ceremonies commemorating the Battle of Agincourt. There the skill of English archers inflicted terrible casualties on the French, while the English suffered comparatively few losses themselves.

None of these statistics takes account of the cost in civilian suffering.

War is not new, nor are the millions of unseen casualties who carry their wounds in their hearts and minds.

If you wear a poppy this weekend, wear it with pride, certainly.

Wear it not only for our servicemen and women, but also for the wives who lost husbands, the husbands who lost wives; the parents who lost children, and the children who were orphaned.

And wear it for all those who survived, but whose minds have been scrambled by their experiences.

“At the going down of the Sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”