Remembering in Plymouth

Finding myself far from home, I couldn't have found a more fitting place to pay my respects to the fallen. A swathe of humanity moved sedately through the town centre of Plymouth, as if led by an invisible Pied Piper. I felt myself almost carried along as I was caught up in the relentless footsteps. People of all races, all ages and all walks of life moved together in a synchronous mass. Some were in uniform and some were not, some were clearly old enough to have remembered either the second world war, or lived in the aftermath of it, while others were too young to have any real understanding of war and what our men and women faced at such times. Medals were worn proudly and backs were straightened as we approached the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Thousands gathered on the Hoe and stood side by side united in the single cause of remembering those who had fallen. For a hundred years now we have celebrated the end of the first world war and remembered those that fell never to see the homes they left behind. 

But this wasn't just about remembering those from the great war but remembering those from all the many conflicts that have followed. I stood amongst them and waited for the minutes of silence to begin, aware that as the time drew ever nearer the sound of voices gradually became less and less until the boom of a cannon silenced the crowd and stilled their movement. There was a sense of great pride and grief for all those who died and yet one of joy too for the freedom bequeathed to us by their ultimate sacrifice. The great gun boomed again and the silence wasn't broken straight away, the murmur of voices returning slowly. A few drops of rain fell at the precise moment the gun had fired, a few raindrops, or God's tears shed for those lost, a poignant thought for a poignant moment?

For another thirty minutes I stayed along with the majority, joining in with the prayers of thanks and glad to be in the company of those with similar thoughts. Surely there is nothing more powerful when humanity congregates in this way and stands side by side as one. One body, one mind and one soul. If only this peaceful harmony could only be harnessed more just think of what might be achieved and what might never be repeated again.

They will never be forgotten

C.S. Clifford

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