Observances

Just for the record, I sneaked back to my office a little early from this morning’s coffee break, closed the door, and at 11am precisely stood alone for the two minutes’ silence that marks Armistice Day. Cardiff University organised a collective Act of Remembrance in which the two minutes’ silence was preceded by prayers and to which all staff and students were invited. I am, however, not a Christian and the religious dimension means nothing to me, so I did what I prefer to do as long as circumstances permit and marked the occasion on my own.

As I stood in my office looking out over the road, I could see a small group of young people, presumably students, standing outside in silence with their heads bowed. I don’t really understand why but a solitary tear fell from my eye as I watched them.

At 11.02 I went back to work.

Lest we forget.


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8 Responses to “Observances”

  1. I think that the solidarity can be derived from just stepping back and meditating what has, and is happening to the common innocent person. War poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, spent hours meditating to produce their works; so lonely and depressed they must have felt.

    From a British point of view, war and peace has been decided by an aristocracy in London, very far removed from the young men working the land or in industry elsewhere, especially during WWI. My grandfather was removed from his studies at university and sent to patrol the North Sea with the Merchant Navy. I’m sure he had an equal on the opposite side.

    Another sad story, one from a more Welsh perspective, is that of Hedd Wyn; a young man who enlisted so that his younger brother didn’t have to fight even though he wanted to. He was a shepherd and wrote poetry in his spare time. He entered a poem Yr Arwr (The Hero) to the National Eisteddfod. Hedd’s poem was judged to be worthy of the Chair, however he was killed in action before receiving recognition. The poem is about a longing for a perfect world and humanity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedd_Wyn

    Today I do wonder why people enlist for the forces when they are likely to be sent to Afghanistan. Then again it is important to remember that it is not whether armed forces exist or not, but what we do with them, and that responsibility lies with the politicians.

    I know not everyone follows Christianity, however I think we should all meditate on “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Huw,

    That saying of Jesus’ was very specific: it applied to the Roman soldiers charged with enacting his crucifixion after others had decided the verdict. I believe that our politicians know exactly what they are doing and care little. More relevant is something Jesus said in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5): Love your enemy. This refers to personal antagonism and is not incompatible with, say, volunteering to fight Hitler, but it is the verse that converted the son of one of Hamas’ founders to Christianity.

    People sign up for the military knowing about Afghanistan for the same reason they signed up in droves for the early years of World War I. (Unlike Germany, we did not go into it with conscription in place.) Adventure. That same desire is a powerful force for good when harnessed appropriately.

    11/11/11/2010 passed me by, but I shall go to an Anglican service of remembrance this Sunday as well as to my regular Free congregation.

    Anton

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Haley Gomez, Peter Coles. Peter Coles said: Observances: http://wp.me/pko9D-24h […]

  4. While he was but one of many, I find the story of Moseley quite sad on remembrance day

  5. Anton Garrett Says:

    At 10am on Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel EVERYTHING stops for two minutes, even the cars on the highways…

  6. Anton Garret misses something intrinsic as far as the British Military is concerned. The vast majority of ordinary soldiers from the UK are from areas of high unemployment. Maybe this is the same the world over. Here is an opportunity to get off the dole, train for a profession, and make some kind of life. The army has a captive audience in waiting. However, it is still a fact – if you join up and dont expect to go to war – why on earth did you do it? No-one has co-erced ‘our boys’ to sign on the line – and dare I say it – The army is a wonderful thing, it keeps the psychopaths of the streets – I dont know where this quote comes from.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      I’m not sure what you think I’m missing as I agree with most of what you say, except to call ordinary soldiers psychopaths. You provided a better explanation than that of why people join up yourself.

  7. “The vast majority of ordinary soldiers from the UK are from areas of high unemployment. Maybe this is the same the world over.”

    Indeed. In the States, the armed forces have billboard advertisements reading “No job? No career? No education? No future? Come to us!”.

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