On Sunday 4th November at 3pm we hold a quiet service which we simply call ‘In Loving Memory’. This provides us all with the opportunity to remember family members and friends who have died. Some who come to the service will have lost someone recently. For others the initial loss will be more distant, but the pain still felt. In hymns, prayers and silence we will give thanks for times past, pray for strength for times to come and remember.
Then on Sunday 11th November will come our Remembrance Day Service. In church, linking with the BBC coverage of the Cenotaph service in Whitehall, and then in the Military Cemetery adjacent to the churchyard, we will remember.
This year there is the added significance of it being the centenary of the end of the First World War. At 5am on Monday 11th November 1918, in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne, north of Paris, representatives of the German government and military met with French and British military leaders and agreed that fighting would come to an end at 11am on that day.
Even in that morning, the final morning of hostilities, there were 10,944 casualties and 2,738 deaths on the Western Front. Estimates of the total death toll for the conflict vary, but it is thought to have been around 17 million. It is a number that it is hard to comprehend.
In 1919, King George V called for people in every part of the Empire to perpetuate the memory of the great deliverance and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it, by keeping two minutes silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
He requested that “during that time, except in the rare cases where this may be impracticable, all work, all sound, and all locomotion should cease, so that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.” The practice of wearing poppies began the following year.
We remember still. We remember not just those who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 conflict but in many conflicts since. We remember in order to honour those who have gone before and to learn lessons for the sake of future generations.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. (Laurence Binyon)
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits. (Psalm 103:2)
Revd Andy Wilson
Vicar, Christ Church Portsdown
Joint Area Dean, Havant
Chaplain, Havant & Waterlooville FC