Friday was the seventy-fourth anniversary of Kristallnacht, and the reason I know this is because I was at art class with a friend of mine, who was in Berlin that night, and who watched from an upstairs window as the local synagogues and the Jewish businesses were destroyed and ransacked. Shortly afterwards my friend and her nine year old brother left Berlin on the Kindertransport; she was fourteen years old.
This wonderful woman remarked to me on Friday morning that no one should live long enough to become part of the past, and I told her that I thought she was wrong, that I thought it was very important that she was a living part of something that must never be forgotten.
Today is Remembrance Sunday. There is always something very special about Remembrance Sunday falling on the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month, and, at eleven o’clock this morning, I will observe two minutes silence, as I was taught to do, and as I have always done.
I live in a garrison town, and the local Gurkha regiment will march along my street this morning, and the sight and sound of those fine soldiers will send a chill down my spine as it always does.
It never goes away, does it? Somewhere in the World, someone is always in trouble, and we keep sending our young men and women into those warzones to try to make things better. It was ever thus.
There is no room for politics on a day like today, and I’m not going to be the one to introduce the subject, except to say this: It’s irrelevant who’s in power; it’s irrelevant who makes the decisions to send soldiers to war. I care that our soldiers are treated fairly, paid adequately, have the equipment that they need, know the camaraderie and the morale that they deserve, and are looked after when they return from active service. I care that our soldiers are respected and valued and remembered for their courage and fortitude, and for their service to their country. I care that their pensions and their medical bills are paid, and that their mental and emotional needs are met. I care that their families are helped in any and all ways to recover from the traumas associated with welcoming a veteran back into their arms or, in the worst cases, are helped to cope with losing their fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters.
It is Remembrance Sunday, and we remember our Service Men and Women, and we remember, too, the Men and Women they have so nobly served.