Now that the rush of summer activities is over and before we get caught up in the mayhem of Christmas it is a good time to pause and remember what has gone before.
Remembrance Sunday is upon us once again and Battle of Britain Sunday not that long ago. At this time of year we remember before God in church and by war memorials all those who have fought and died to protect what they and we believe in. Some of us will have recent memories of friends and comrades and some will have memories of the more distant past. God gave us our memory so that we could learn from experience, so we should use it wisely. What we remember now and more particularly how we remember it is very important because memories help to shape what we will be tomorrow. This applies as much to nations as to individuals. Nations can have very strong memories.
Those who do not or will not remember past experiences, particularly if the memories are unpleasant, deny their past and deprive themselves of any roots. Learning to live with bad memories can be more valuable than learning to live with pleasant ones. It is to give us common roots that the military is very keen on tradition and living up to it. For it is recognised that without these roots we have nothing to fall back on for support in time of trouble. How we remember yesterday makes us who we are today. What we do today will determine who we become tomorrow both as individuals and as a nation.
“We are often tempted to ask ourselves what we gained by the enormous sacrifices made by those to whom this memorial is dedicated. But that was never the issue with those who marched away. No question of advantage presented itself to their minds. They only saw the light shining on the clear path to duty. They only saw their duty to resist oppression, to protect the weak, to vindicate the profound but unwritten Law of Nations. They never asked the question, ‘What shall we gain?’ They asked only the question, ‘Where lies the right?’”
From a speech marking the unveiling of a WW1 memorial in 1925 by Winston Churchill.
Tony Gilbert, Senior Chaplain