This morning I stood in silence at a village remembrance service. Tonight, my Facebook wall is full of pictures of those friends, many in Scout or Cadet uniform, who also chose to pause and remember. Those pictures are not just from my own country, but from all over the Commonwealth.
Conscripts and volunteers from across the world have lost their lives in countless conflicts. I respect those who choose not to wear a poppy, but I wear mine as an international symbol of remembrance – and in hope that we may work together to create a more peaceful world.
Frank Mansell, the Cotswold war poet, wrote a beautiful poem of remembrance and it was these words of “The Holy Brook” (a real river that runs through the woods close to the village where I grew up) that echoed round my head this morning during those two minutes of palpable silence:
“He will not walk again by Severn tide, nor see a distant silver in the sun.
He will not dream again on Slad hillside, above the inns where Cotswold lads have fun.
He will not know again the joys of home, the loving welcome and the warmth of kin.
He will not see the black edged letter come to break the heart he was most cherished in.
“He died in war and men forget his name,
All that he was is vanished into night.
The brook still flows newborn and yet the same,
Out of the womb of Cotswold to the light.”