Wednesday, 11 November 2009

11:11:11 Remembrance

At 11am on 11th of November we have a tradition to remember all those who have fallen in Armed conflict, since world war one (The Original Armistace day was 11o'clock on 11th Nov 1918) The tradition is marked by 2 minutes of silence and it is an opportunity to remember those who have died (in every conflict: Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan to name but a few) and pray for those who grieve their loss and also to pray for peace in the world today.

The following is some of the material I used in services of remembrance

WDYTYA - who do you think you are?

Many of us have been into family history, so now Armistace Day is when I remember 2 great uncles, both killed in Ypres – Pvt 8936 Albert Edward Toms of the 2nd Suffolk Rgt was KIA in Ypres in Feb 1915, 4 days before his 18th birthday, one of 54,896 listed on the Menin Gate and Cpl 5021 Ernest Gibbons of the 1st Royal Irish Rifles, KIA 1st Oct 1918 (after fighting most of the war) He was 'buried' in Dadizeele, near Ypres.

Harry Patch the last fighting Tommy died this year so there were no more WW1 veterans taking part in remembrance services around the country. 'The old boys are leaving' A YouTube video commemorates his life to the requiem music from Band of Brothers.


Poetry can capture some of the conflicts and contradictions of War and can speak in very personal ways. The 2 poems I have chosen are written in 1915 and 2009

'In Flanders Fields' Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.

Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lieIn Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies growIn Flanders fields.

HELMUND A poem by John Hawkhead

Author's introduction This poem concerns the current operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. My intention was to draw parallels between military operations using the poppy, which is grown extensively for opium and ironically is also the symbol we use for Remembrance Day.


Night on the cold plain,

invisible sands lift,

peripheral shadows stir,

space between light and dark

shrouding secrets;

old trades draped grey.

Here too poppies fall,

petals blown on broken ground,

seeds scattered on stone

and this bright bloom,

newly cropped,
leaves pale remains,

fresh lines cut;

the old sickle wind

sharp as yesterday.


The red poppy speaks powerfully of Flanders and has become the symbol of Remembrance, whilst the white poppy brings us up to date to the opium fields of Afghanistan and has also become a symbol of Peace.

We used paper red and white poppies as prayers

Red Poppy – write the name of someone who has died who is known personallly ( or to an 'unknown Soldier') or the name of a conflict.

White poppy - write a prayer for World Peace - or a place or person needing 'peace'

We then placed the poppies in a bowl or on a table at the foot of the cross (to the music of Benedictus sung by Hayley Westenra)


Playing For Change as a group of musicians from around the world who have come together (vitually) to promote Peace. It seemed very appropriate to play their video War/No more trouble during the service

War has eroded religious faith for many but it was out of the context of a WW2 concentration camp, that this powerful expression of faith in the face of adversity was written by a Jew:

‘I believe in the sun even when it is not shining

I believe in love even when I cannot feel it

I believe in God even when he is silent….'

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