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An article on Remembrance

Category: AirTanker Released: 06 November 2020

'When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.'

Quote: The Kohima Epitaph, 2nd British Division, Kohima (North-East India)

An article written by Jim Plumstead, Director People & Culture

I was asked to provide a few words for Remembrance Sunday, this Sunday 8th November 2020.  A day that for all pragmatic reasons, with our newly imposed restrictions, will not be the same as it has been for the last 101 years; churches will be almost empty, cenotaphs and memorials, on the whole, unattended, services... Silenced. 

It seems that at a time when loss, mourning, fear and anxiety, a time when the act of remembering is most needed, we are denied the small comfort of remembering together, an additional sad consequence of this terrible period that we are all witnessing in our own virtual way.

Those of you who have been with me on any of our battlefield tours over the past 10 years (yes it has been that long) will recognise the above epitaph as the words spoken by Major Tim Saunders as we laid our Voyager wreaths in silence, at the foot of each memorial. We bowed our heads to remember those who didn’t come home, their loyalty, their courage, their sense of duty and their ultimate sacrifice. But it was more than that, we also celebrated their commitment, their resolve, their comradery and their evental victory; they stepped up to that critical moment when they were asked to do so.    

So before we consign these ideals and memories to the chalky black and white footage of Pathé News and a bygone era, just pause for a second and think about today...

Look at the behaviours of our NHS, our teachers, our emergency services, all our key workers and I would ask you to look at yourselves.  Once again an extraordinary time of suffering and hardship has brought out some of the very best in human qualities. Step away for a second from the politics, the press coverage, the constant chatter and the ever changing data and look at the humanity, the response, the coming together of communities and the sense of fellowship.  Try to balance the bad with the good and remember that all this will, at some point, come to pass.   

So Remembrance this year for me, and I hope for you too, will be for a very different affair, albeit personal and away from the solace of a crowd or congregation.  I will, as ever, close my eyes and remember the fallen who gave their lives during wartime, for our freedom.  I will remember those who have given, and continue to give, so much this year in the face of an invisible and unknown enemy; getting up every morning and, irrespective of the known risk, going out there to do their job.  Finally I will remember those whom we have lost this year for pandemic or non-pandemic related reasons and those they have left behind. Similar to our forefathers during the Great Wars, they were unable to attend that funeral or burial and were unable to be there during those final moments; they will continue to remember 2020 as a most painful year of loss.

So please find a quiet corner on Sunday or Wednesday and take a moment to reflect and remember; we may not all be there in person but we can certainly join together in our thoughts.  This year we can both remember sacrifice and loss as well as celebrate our humanity.

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