It is 100 years since the Great War ended. It is a Sunday and my church will start the morning service 15 minutes only so we can stand in silence together and remember.
There is nothing good to remember about people dying in conflict. As Wilfred Owen put it, we remember
The pity of war, the pity war distilled
It is not just the Great War that ended 100 years ago today that we remember but we remember the sacrifice of all those who have died in conflict before and since, people who gave their lives for their country or were simply caught up in someone else’s war.
Today is also my birthday, I popped out of my mother’s tummy shortly after 11 am on the 11th November 1961. My father who helped in my delivery , reminded my mother that she did not respect the two minute silence.
I feel awkward linking my birthday with so awesome a collective memory as that we have today.
But I take some courage from knowing that I was one of the first children who grew up without war and without national service, without rationing, without the threat of invasion.
That we are now sufficiently confident of peace in Europe, that we can think of leaving the union , tells me that war is no longer an existential threat to people living in this country.
There are those in Yemen , Syria and many other places on the planet who cannot live this luxuriously. That we do is in part – because we remember. We are keeping our promise , mindful of the grim foreboding present in the phrase “lest we forget”.
This is the 57th time my birthday has been celebrated, it is a memorable day right now because of social media as much as anything!
But today is about remembering the dead more than the living. My charmed life is built on the lasting peace that came out of the horrors of two great wars. For all our worries about global annihilation, we have not fired a nuclear weapon in anger since 1945.
This is a truly amazing thing. Proof of the inter-dependency of nation upon nation. Though we have and have had wars, we have learned that our capacity to work together out does our inclination to invade and subject.
Whether I will live to die a peaceful death remains to be seen, it is something devoutly to be wished for, it is what I will be praying for this morning.
I wish for myself and for others many more peaceful remembrance days.