MEMORIAL Emotional day for Rev Brian
The minister at Cambuslang Baptist Church has spoken of his pride after taking the Remembrance Day ceremony at the town’s war memorial for the final time.
Rev Brian Graham (63), whose own father escaped a PoW camp in World War Two, has been involved in the service since he arrived in Cambuslang in 1998.
He and Dr Rev Leslie Milton alternate in taking charge of the ceremony each year, and with Brian set to retire in the summer of 2016, this year was his final time taking the service.
After performing his duties for the last time, Brian admitted to the Reformer it had been an even more emotional day for him than usual.
He said: “The service went very well, it was very well attended again by the public and also the organisations like the Girls Guides, Scouts and BB.
“When I arrived here in 1998 there was a rota with the local churches and I went on to that. I don’t know exactly when I done my first service but I’ve attended every one since then. Back then you did it every three or four years but because of church mergers and other churches being unable to get involved, it has been between myself and Leslie Milton.
“Next year is Leslie’s turn so this year is my last.
“Any member of the public can attend a service, but to be one of the few people who get the opportunity to lead that service, to be able to call people to remembrance and remind them what we are honouring, to tell them the stories of bravery and sacrifice and courage of the men who gave their lives - that’s an immense privilege.
“To officiate and say to people that is why we are here is one of the highlights of being a minister.
“I love doing it and I will miss it greatly.”
Since moving to Cambuslang 16 years ago from Glenrothes, Brian, reckons he has led at around eight services at the memorial.
And in that time he’s seen a few changes but also some things that have stayed the same: “In the early years there used to be a pipe band, I believe they were an ex-police band.
“They would march up to the memorial and it was always such a stirring site. They were all dressed in their kilts, it was great.
“We also had a bugler who would play the last post, and that was always an emotional moment. We don’t have that anymore, we have a piper who plays the Flowers of the Forest. The bugler was something special.
“At the wreath laying ceremony on Sunday - and maybe I just noticed this because it was my last time - there was this fellow, he must have been in his 80’s, an old soldier.
“When it was his turn to lay a wreath he walked up with his stick and he looked a bit infirm but when he was in front of the memorial he stood bolt upright to attention and saluted.
“That’s what it’s all about, old soldiers paying tribute to their friends. That was a very emotional moment.”
Brian, who is the baptist church’s longest serving minister, has his own links to the Second World War through his dad who served in the Scot’s Guards.
He was captured by the German’s and taken to a PoW camp in Poland but later escaped.
However, Brian admits he doesn’t know much else about what happened: “We only found this out after he died.
“He made his way over land and sea and got home. My grandmother had a letter from the Army saying she should presume he’s been killed so I can only imagine her face the day he walked up the garden path.
“The folk in his street gave him an inscribed watch which he wore till the day he died.
“I have no idea (where or when he was captured). We never got the details and he never talked about it.”
Emotional Rev Brian Graham, pictured with wife Ann Marie, took the service at Cambuslang War Memorial for a final time