November 11th…..Armistice Day.

Until in her late nineties mother used to march past the Cenotaph for the annual ceremony of remembrance whether on foot or, in later years, pushed in a wheelchair by a chum from the Brigade of Guards .

Father would never attend any such ceremony, considering it all a masquerade which glorified the deaths and wounds of those who were sent to war for interests that were not their own.

Mother wanted to march with her comrades.

Father turned his back on the whole thing.

But on some things they were agreed. Those who died in war did not ‘sacrifice’ their lives…….they were killed, wounded, potentially maimed for life both mentally and physically, in actions ordered by their governments.

Governments which do and have not given a toss for those who serve in their wars. Plenty of lip service and ceremony, but a U.K. Ministry of Defence which throws money at inept procurement projects while sending the human beings out in the field with defective equipment to take their chance. Discharged veterans without aid and support, some even on the streets.

Further, those who go to war have a strong bond of solidarity…they look after each other through thick and thin…something in civilian, in political life, in these days of identity politics we seem to have forgotten.

Can you imagine them not going to the aid of a comrade because he voted for Brexit….was of a different skin colour….approved of Trump? No, you can not. They will bring him in and argue about their differences later.

It is a lesson we can learn from those who volunteer to defend their country…though all too often they end up defending some other country’s interests.

In civilian, in political life we should stop identifying people by the labels either they or others give them.

We need to band together to defend the values which we need to have a healthy society.

Good housing, good education, real employment.

We can argue about our differences when we have won.

And on a personal note, here is something that brings back memories of mother.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea offers care and accommodation for a limited number of veterans, known as the Chelea Pensioners and recognised by their red coats and black tricorne hats.

Every year at the Royal British Legion Ceremony of Remembrance they make their entry, clapped to their place on the stand to the accompaniment of ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’.

And every year, without fail, mother would greet their entry with a cry of ‘Creepers!’ and then have to take to her handkerchief as she remembered the ‘boys of the old brigade’ now gone.

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Remembrance

I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

A Dead Statesman

Rudyard Kipling

It relates directly to the man standing behind the current Prime Minister, but they are all capable of similar conduct and we need to open our eyes to what is done in our name but without our consent.

Listen To This And You Will Not Forget

Poppies at the Tower of London…the Queen bowing before the Cenotaph…the standards lowered…the silence…
Remembrance…official remembrance.

Now, while it is still available, please turn to the BBC radio rediscovery of The Long Long Trail on radio 4…a collection of the songs of the Tommies made by that archivist extraordinaire Charles Chiltern…and see what made those ordinary men great.

Their resilience, their kindness, their bawdiness, their cynical recognition of the realities….you could kill the man, but never the spirit. Ordinary men….not sculptured heroes on a monument.
Men who lived, loved, laughed…and were killed.