Monday, November 12, 2018

Remembrance


There is always a lot going on in London. I could have something amazing to do pretty much every night of the year if I wanted to (and in some cases had the budget for it). I often have trouble deciding which things I'll go to, and I'll admit that my default is to just stay home. But I'd heard that the installation at the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the end of World War I was really amazing, and on the last possible day to do so, I decided that I'd like to see it. As a pacifist at heart, I have conflicting feelings about a lot of military action, but I do not have conflicting feelings about honoring lives lost in conflict, be they those who served in the military or civilians.

Originally the plan was that we would bring the children home from church and then I would head out on my own just to take a look at the torches once they were lit. But the church service was longer than usual due to our deacon being ordained into the priesthood, and likewise the lunch afterwards was longer, so we ended up passing Tower Hill about an hour before the first flame was going to be lit. Instead of going home, Z and I exited the train and followed the crowd through the crowd control paths set out for the event, and we managed to find a spot with only some small trees blocking our view.

We saw the person carrying the flame approach and light the first flame, and we watched as the rest of the flames were lit. It was beautiful, a fitting tribute to all those who never came home after crossing the channel to fight on the continent, or who died in their own country where the fighting took place. The numbers of lives lost is staggering. In some areas of the conflict, more than ten percent of the population lost their lives. At 100 years out from the end of this first world war, the impact of this is beginning to fade. I'm not sure we have learned the lessons that history should teach us. Or maybe we have learned lessons that were never meant to be taught. It is complicated, this idea of taking up arms to defend nations. But it is simple to understand the loss of a life.

So we all stood and watched those flames being lit, and I said a prayer for all the lives lost in conflicts around the world. I thought of all the places that innocent people are dying even now, with little hope that things will change soon. We live in this magical city where we can hop off an Underground train and see a beautiful tribute, and it is not lost on me that this is a great privilege, to be allowed to stand and watch the flames light up, on Remembrance Sunday, during which we remember all those who have lost their lives in both world wars and in all wars since. My life is terribly comfortable. May I never forget that it is not the same for everyone around the world.

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