Saturday, July 25, 2009

The end of an era

Harry Patch, the veteran from WW1 who only a few years ago gave an impromptu press conference when he revisited the Western Front has died only a week after the oldest man Henry Allingham also passed away.

I remembered saying to a friend at the cenotaph last year; the 90th anniversary of the end of WW1, that I thought next year there would be none left. I cried when those three men laid their wreaths, particularly Henry who was so determined to put his own down, but often when a milestone is reached the end draws closer.

When I was in Normandy for D Day 65 the veterans there were at least in their mid 80s. Soon there will be only handfuls of veterans from the second world war.

Our political classes may have forgotten the sacrafices made by the millions as the bulldoze through our democracy, liberty and culture but one only needs to look and see the numbers who wear a poppy in November to know that the public remember and give thanks.

More and more the poppy, the symbol of remembrance, represents those who have made the ultimate sacrifice recently, particularly as so many serving now have experienced losing friends.

But the poppy originated from the bloody fields of Flanders and will remain inextricably linked with those who were called up for a bloody conflict which only really finished in 1945.

We must always remember all those who fell in all conflicts and that includes when we go to the ballot box and not just in November.

2 comments:

scunnert said...

In this town where I live they stopped having the remembrance day ceremony at the local cenotaph and now have it indoors in an auditorium. This is, no doubt, to protect our dignitaries from inclement weather as they are likely to melt in the rain like the Wicked Witch of the North.

I went and had to listen to a plethora of local, provincial, and federal politicians give speeches on how these brave men gave their lives to protect a "multicultural" Canada. No kidding.

I don't go anymore. I'll remember in my own time in my own way.

It;s sad though - all those old men from WWI I knew in my youth are now gone - and their memories with them. Now the men of WWII are passing away and with them the link to what Britain used to be like. Talking to these people today they say they welcome death as they no longer recognize the country of their youth. They are strangers in their own land.

James Higham said...

There are an awful lot of them dying off recently, don't you think?