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NOVEMBER 11TH Centenary of the end of the Great War
Of course on Remembrance Sunday we will remember not only those who died in “the war to end all wars”, but those of the Second World War and the countless conflicts since. But this year, and especially on November 11th itself our minds will go back to Armistice Day 1918.
We must approach the centenary of the Armistice with awe, the more especially as the last of the “Tommys” is now dead.
The tradition of the silence at the eleventh hour masks the fact that for many of them until the Armistice, silence was something they dreaded, because as the guns fell silent it was the signal for that gut churning wait till a whistle broke the silence and they “went over the top”.
But that year the guns fell silent and did not fire again.
November 11th is the Feast Day of St Martin of Tours, a Roman Army Officer who met a freezing beggar at the gates of Amiens, and cut his cloak in half and gave it to him. That night he saw a vision of Jesus wearing half the cloak and heard the saying “in so far as you did it to the least of my brothers you did it to me”.
He left the army and was baptised, became a monk and then was called to be bishop of Tours where he was one of the great evangelists of France. He is one of the Patron Saints of that country. In the great church built on the site of his tomb there is a memorial which gives thanks to God for the great “victory” of France made effective on his Feast Day.
Sadly we know that “making the peace” for that conflict sowed the seeds for the next World War. It seems that we never learn from our mistakes.
If you do not have anyone from WWI in your family to remember on that day, can I suggest that you go to your nearest War Memorial, in church or on the street, and find a name similar to yours from that ghastly conflict and make them your own for the day.
As we say “rest eternal” we shall be challenged also that “They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old, age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them”.
As we live our free lives now we should also ponder the Kohema Epitaph from WWII – “when you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today”
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