Follow one crying eye on


Today on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day it matters not that one of my eyes is crying, indeed probably no problem with both of them leaking a bit. I joined a decent-sized crowd of people in the town centre and croaked through a couple of hymns and the National Anthem (a whole octave down from where I used to be able to sing – I guess that’s better than part of an octave, which would have sounded appalling).

I feel drawn to this event each year although have missed many. I do not have any distant relatives lost in the war – at least, not those to whom I have  any real connections.  But there is something compelling about the collection of people with their thoughts, standing side by side with others I do not know, remembering images from newspapers, television, imagination. Respectful and sombre. Recalling my father in law who was a prisoner of war in WWII.

The remembrance parade and outdoor service are always haphazard – many people seem to have no idea it is on, there is plenty of ambient noise around town and we are in the way of people trying to go about their shopping – but today we managed a tolerably quiet 2-minute silence and at least one of the bugles was excellent. Only one cadet had to be escorted away with his face whiter than his hat.

I love the mix of people who attend. Some elderly, many much younger and with small children. Quite a few very smart coats, jackets, ties – some medals of course, and plenty of uniforms in the parade – but also people in running gear or walking boots who are just taking the time out between other activities. I don’t see this as any less respectful.  An abundance of different types of poppy this year gave an extra element of interest to the casual spectator in the longer parts of the prayers.  Actually, talking about attention span, it was amazing how many people really couldn’t hang around after the silence.  We are so busy these days that we can’t wait a few more minutes for the procession to wind its way back to the church.

I was pleased to see on Facebook later in the day a full set of photographs of the ceremony around the war memorial in the village where I grew up. I don’t believe I ever attended as a child but somehow it was still nostalgic. Do we just make up what’s important from our past?  Probably.  But if it is uplifting somehow, then why not?



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Follow one crying eye on