As a child I was instructed not to celebrate Remembrance Day and forbidden to buy poppies due to my parents religious beliefs. They saw it as the glorification of war which displeases God.
I found this difficult to understand as there are accounts in the Bible where many battles were fought and instigated by Kings in the name of God.
As years passed I discovered that Remembrance Day is more about acknowledgement of the young men and women who were ordered to fight for their country. Enormous pressure was brought to bear on them as refusal resulted in prison sentences and accusations of cowardice.
As a volunteer visitor at a local nursing home I had many conversations with two elderly gentleman named Arthur and Lenny. Lenny was quite deaf after working on the gun ships during the war so our conversations were loud! . He told me the young men were excited about the war but also apprehensive. There was an incident where the gun ship was hit by a bomb and the crew immediately jumped into the sea to avoid the flames. While awaiting rescue Lenny and other men swallowed copious amounts of sea water and oil from the ship which caused digestive problems for him . Some of the men died there and others saw visions of angels. His eyes filled with tears as he related this experience to me. His happiest memory was returning home on leave to meet his baby daughter for the first time. She was two months old and he thought she was the most beautiful little thing he ever laid eyes upon. Arthur did not talk about the war as it was too emotional for him, but I saw photographs of him in his uniform.
It is difficult to imagine the horrific scenes and distress experienced during the wars. The memories would remain throughout their lives. Some soldiers returned home without limbs and other life changing injuries and others did not return at all. Having a son of my own I can imagine how torturous it was for mothers awaiting news of their sons every day and wondering if they would see them again. How tough and robust people from the war generations were required to be!
My parents were not evacuated as children and I have heard their accounts of the terrifying doodlebugs and bombs that hit their gardens and neighbouring houses. My Grandparents and Uncles were military men and worked hard for their country. Rationing provided minimum food and clothing for families and women took on male roles within the working community to keep it going.
The war generation were not provided with adequate counselling facilities. They lived their lives from day to day and counted their blessings. They know what real hardship is and they must despair at the world today when people cannot handle trivialities of life.
The war generation deserves the utmost respect for all they experienced, as we reap the benefits of this today. Lets hope that future generations remember them and make an effort to improve the present situations to create a better future.