Four years of Commemorations of the Centenary of the First World War culminate on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the guns fell silent as the agreed Armistice began that led eventually to the signing of the Peace Treaty to end the war. The Commemorations have not only recalled the great human that affected nearly every community, not just within our own country, but across Europe, but they have allowed families and communities to research the lives of those who went to war, to listen to their voices recorded or spoken through letters and cards and to grieve, as well as offer thanksgiving.
I have been touched by the stories of loved ones at home writing regularly of their day to day activities and how much they miss their husband, lover, father... and looking forward to their safe return, only to receive back their unopened letters with the news of their loved one dying heroically or bravely for King and Country. It was a war that changed the landscape physically, politically, socially and personally and the Commemorations remind us that there are still consequences of the war being lived out today. The suffering didn't end on November 11th either- for the families of those killed, there was lifelong mourning where grief for many was suppressed; for the wounded and those returning safely from the Front, there would be hardship; for a hundred million or more people across the world, there was the suffering and death caused by the influenza pandemic which broke out towards the end of the war.
Of course the `War to end all Wars' wasn't realised as the world resumed conflict just over twenty years later, with the subsequent need to add more names on to City, Town and Village War Memorials- something that sadly has been the case up to the present day.
On the 11th November we should all stand in silent reflection and thanksgiving at 11am wherever we are to remember, to offer thanksgiving and to pledge that we will do all that we can to work for peace and goodwill with our neighbour, whoever they are. The Commemorations have helped to lift names from a War Memorial and give them life and personality again and perhaps there may be somebody you have researched or read about who you can hold in your thought during the silent reflection. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and in him we pray for the Peace which passes all understanding and has the capacity to reconcile and heal. It is the peace that men and women died for and we are called to ensure that their sacrifices were not in vain. We will remember them.
With love and prayers