Today’s a day when we remember all those who have died in war…

When I was at school, my mother gave me money to get a red remembrance poppy as they were brought round the school, classroom by classroom.  She had clear memories of 1939-45, of both Derby and York (where she was at school).  I think she told us children a sanitised version of her experiences…

My uncle was old enough to be enlisted.  He rarely talked of the war, and my father said his brother had said very little, even when he’d recently returned.  He had been a prisoner-of-war in Germany and returned very thin.  I believe he had nightmares, but it was all ‘stiff upper lips’ in those days…

Other people have passed through my life with first hand experience of war, including someone involved in the evacuation of concentration camps, a member of a bomb disposal squad and a friend who travelled with the forces back from the Falklands War.

In all cases I have been left with a feeling that war is truely horrific, more often not from what they’ve said, but from what is not said.  Maybe those who remember, use their silence to protect those of us who don’t, from the sights and smells too well remembered.

Time passes, and those who survived the horrors of 1939-45 are leaving us.  I am therefore grateful for those who have the courage to express something of those days.  And to the historians and film-makers who are recording these memories so that they may be shared more widely.  May we learn from their experiences to manage disagreement and resolve our differences better in future.

Red and white together... to remember victims of war and build for peace

Since my school days, white poppies have blossomed to raise the need to work for peace.  Peace  is not just an absence of conflict, it needs to be built and nurtured.  In my rebellious young adult days I wore a white poppy alone, to highlight this need.

I now wear red and white together – to remember all those who have suffered the horrors of war, and to dare dream a dream where wars are no more.

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