I am a Forces child.
I am a Forces grandaughter.
I am a Forces niece.
I am a Forces cousin.
I am a Forces great grandaughter.
I am friends with Forces partners and wives/husbands.
I have worked for the Ministry of Defence within an RAF base.
I think it is safe to say I have a strong military connection!
Today is officially Rememberence Sunday. The day in which we remember those who have fallen serving their Country whether it be in the World Wars or in today’s conflicts in Afghanistan. It is the day we were our Poppies with extreme pride, well it must be just me then!
Poppies have been on sale from the Royal British Legion, or RBL, since 1921. It is the 90th anniversary of Rememberence Sunday. The reason Poppies are sold, and the inspiration behind the idea is in the following poem.
In Flanders’ Fields
John McCrae, 1915
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.
It is a beautiful poem by McCrae and I can only say that this poem is one that stirs my emotions every time I read or hear it.
I watched the Festival of Rememberence on BBC1 last night and, apart from Cliff Richard (sorry I cannot stand him), the entertainment was excellent. The sight of the troops performing in their various bands was amazing. The Gurkhas band and dancers were fascinating. For me, however, the highlight has to be when they held a 2 minute silence with Poppies falling from the rafters at the Albert Hall. The Poppies created a carpet of red with some petals resting on serving, and retired, personnel’s dress hats. It made me cry.
When an announcement is made that someone has, in the words of a good friend, become a ‘fallen angel’ I stop and pray for their soul. I also pray for their families; friends and colleagues. Each Rememberence Sunday I wear Poppy and head to the nearest service, I mourn the loss of all service personnel. I cry openly. I am not ashamed to respond to people who ask why I am crying by saying ‘I am mourning the loss of troops past and present’. I am also not ashamed to admit my strong military connection.
My father served in the Royal Air Force for well over 3 decades. He retired earlier this year. I am immensely proud of him. He, to me, is a hero. He flew fast jets as well as took part in a well known display team and taught others how to fly (including 2 members of our Royal Family). Okay so he doesn’t have a million medals or an OBE like my late grandfather did but he has served in some of the most dangerous conflicts since World War II.
It upsets me when people feel or state that they will not attend such services of Rememberence or even buy a Poppy. If I dare to ask them I get told that the Poppy is outdated and not relelvant anymore. Well here is my response.
Thousands of men and women are currently fighting in Afghanistan and Libya to name two places. There has been nearly 400 British deaths since the beginning of the Afghan conflict which began after the horrific terrorist attacks in New York. We lost many more in Iraq too. Add that to the many who have died since the beginning of World War I in 1914 and you have a lot of people who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country. Whether you agree with the recent conflicts or not you should remember those who fought for our freedom between 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.
We also need to ensure that the next generation and the generations to come after that are told about the sacrifices our forefathers made. We will remember them and we will not let their memory fade like a candle.