Always Remembered

At the eleventh hour, on a Sunday of the eleventh month…

I have just finished reading an excellent post from a fellow veteran. He describes the experience of attendance at the Cenotaph, for Remembrance Sunday. There is wistful reminiscence in coming under the control of the Garrison Sergeant Major. The march to and from Whitehall. The evocative, emotive atmosphere of the ceremony, and the celebration of comradeship that is the march past of the veterans.
This post has stern purpose, too, in its description of the relatively brief attendance of the dignitaries. It tells of their retreat to the warm, palatial chambers overlooking Whitehall, whilst they watch the march past below. Heated rooms, and a surfeit of ‘Fizz’ and finger sandwiches…
It begs the question: why bear witness to sacrifice yet ignore the real witnesses; the very people for whom violent death was an expectation? What does this casual disregard say to the current Servicemen in attendance; those on parade? The bond between the generations of Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen is palpable and obvious. The grateful regard of the United Kingdom, embodied in Royalty; Aristocracy; Politicos and civic dignitaries, much less so…
If ever an event merited a public holiday, surely it is Armistice Day? The purpose is to mark the silence of the eleventh hour of 11 November. You’ve got it though… that would mean a day off work. Much better having it on a day we’re already off. Got to think of production, after all; making another pound or two…
Why a marble obelisk? Whilst we’re at it. Why the Imperial majesty of the British War Memorial at Thiepval?
Nobody asked the warriors what they wanted. The rich and well-regarded of the Empire decided for them. The ‘Fizz and finger sandwich people’ decided. They built monuments to themselves. An English John Bull, standing astride the prostate body of a damaged, crippled World, anointing himself with the laurel crown of victory.
So what is it I’m banging on about? What would I want to change?
Well, for a start the sovereign and her courtiers; her high-heid politicians; her gilded Senior Officers, should be the ones in their place early. There to welcome the veterans and current warriors as they arrive. Britain’s gratitude should extend to Queen and Establishment remaining whilst the entire parade passes; till the fighters honour the fallen. The piss-up noted in their social diary should be timed for well after the feeding and watering of the real heroes…
Now that’s what you could call remembrance. Oh, sorry! That, and giving veterans a roof, three square meals and a generous measure of dignity.

© franciman 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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