It’s that time of year when I note Remembrance here in the UK and personally express my gratitude and concern for those who lost their lives in the service of our country – this post is one I make every year, but evolves as I think and reflect on those who paid and continue to pay a huge price for our freedom.
I know and have known many people, including several great friends whose lives and families have been deeply scarred by war and military service,
The battles that haunt these people – both the ones on the battlefield, and those in their heads – trouble me to this day and I honour and recognise their sacrifice, and that of those who didn’t return from some foreign field.
The business of recording here the lives and histories here of those who fought in the service of the UK in any theatre of conflict goes on, and there will be more history recorded upon this blog in the coming hours, weeks and hopefully, years. Although these people were largely ordinary, what they gave was extraordinary and their stories should be recorded and shared.
One of the most encouraging things locally this past 18 months has been the Aldridge Great War Project with Sue Staterthwaite and Len Boulton opening up remarkable hidden history that’s both professional and diligent.
In Brownhills itself, Andy Dennis has been working through the history of Brownhills War Memorial with a series of intimate and fascinating posts that are changing the memorial from names carved with reverence to a record of human history.
On local history and writing, I can still do little better than commend you to read this wonderful, thought-provoking and raw article by Linda Mason, written in 2015.
As I have done previously here, I suggest we spare some time today to think of those who fought in wars we don’t remember so readily. At the moment, we seem to be particularly caught up in memories of both world wars, but I’d like to think we can spare some time for those lost in smaller, but just as personally devastating conflicts.
The disaster that was Korea cost 1038 service lives; the 1939-1948 Palestine uprising that gave birth to the State of Israel 338. While 16 gave their lives over the Suez Crisis, 768 died during The Troubles nearer home.
The Korean war, a military misadventure in the early 1950s not only saw over 1,000 fatalities but also a similar number taken prisoner of war. Few today talk about it, but it must be remembered. This awful conflict touched my family and that of friends, the effects every bit as devastating as more widely understood campaigns.
I include below some videos forming a documentary about Korea, and if you get time today, please watch them. There’s a message here that echoes down the decades.
Finally, I remain troubled by what I can only describe as hectoring, posturing and a degree of bullying over the symbol of Remembrance, the poppy. If you wish to display it, fine, but those who do not – for whatever reason – should not be harangued into doing so. Such offensive enforcement isn’t why those intended to be remembered gave their all.
The Poppy is not political, patriotic or nationalist; it is a simple symbol of solemn recollection and thanks. And because this is still a free country, people are free to participate or otherwise, and that should be respected.
As to charities, I’m still supporting the work of Soldiers Off The Street. A fine charity without expensive layers of bureaucracy who are making a real difference to ex-forces homelessness. Please click on the link and check them out.