The streets are lined with large red poppies. At the village memorial, a life-sized shadow of a soldier stands guard, arms reversed.
Around the memorial, the names of the fallen are recorded in lead, etched, if not for eternity, at least for a century or more. Some of those family names sound familiar, their descendants still here in the village. But time moves on, most of us have no known connection. Moreover, most of us have never known war; thank God. War seems far away, the soldier’s life known only through books and film.
Yet however far away the fighting, war impacts us all, not just the soldier at the front. The seeds of World War 2 were planted in the debris of Versailles; the cost of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is being felt across the globe now, including here; while Dachau, Auschwitz and other such sites show that the absence of war does not guarantee peace or justice.
The shadow standing guard with arms reversed stands for us all. Our freedom, our peace, was bought by his comrades, now immortalised in lead on stone. So, on Sunday we will come to join him, pay our respects and pray for peace.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. If our prayer for peace is limited to this one hour, then we have less substance than the shadow now standing guard on the green. Making peace, keeping peace, defending freedom and justice, indeed all that is good, comes from God. If we truly seek peace, the peace of God, he will answer our prayers. Beware; seeking God’s peace is a lifetime’s work. The answer to our prayer might just be to show us what we can do next.
Rev Philip Payne
Remembrance Day Notice Sheet can be found here