Remembrance is a lesson for the future
There has been national debate this week after a leading author suggested it was time this country stopped its Remembrance parades. Author Simon Jenkins says the time has come to scrap the day and stop ‘wallowing in the past’. His views sparked debate and attracted much criticism. How ironic that the free speech enjoyed by Mr Jenkins was one of the things that those who fell in the world wars and other conflicts died to protect. As a journalist I absolutely defend his right to have an opinion and express it, but when I accompany my dad to a church memorial this weekend and help him place a small wooden cross in memory of his older brother - Pte George Edwards KOYLI - who was killed in Normandy eight days after D-Day, I will be reminded again why Mr Jenkins is wrong. My dad is in his 80s. He is the youngest of ten children and was an evacuee. He talks fondly of George - the eldest of his siblings - and we have visited the cemetery in Tilly Sur Seulles where he is buried. Most poignant are the memories of George’s last visit home... the tales of how he took the local children for a ride in a bren gun carrier and the most difficult memories of the moment my grandmother opened the telegram that contained the worst possible news. We live in a privileged time. Our youngsters live in a different - often virtual world. But I believe the times my dad lived through and the lessons those generations carry, have had an impact on my children and their cousins. I have a nephew who is a Sea Cadet and he will be very busy this weekend playing with the cadet band at parades and ceremonies across the region. He has listened to those stories and he understands the sacrifices that have been made by our service personnel in the past and those that will be made in the future. I believe the Poppy Appeal and our Remembrance parades and services are as relevant today as they have ever been. It is not about wallowing it is about passing on the message of respect and sacrifice. It is about teaching new generations about events that they can barely comprehend in today’s world and therefore teaching them to treasure what we have now and to play their part in making the world a better place.