Sunday, November 14, 2010

We will remember them

This is our day.

Our National Day.

We need no other celebration of ‘Britishness’; no flag-waving or jingoistic expressions of pride in what it means to belong to these islands or appreciate their history.

The Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall marks the eve of Britain’s Day: Remembrance Sunday. It is not about the Union Flag, the George Cross, the Scottish Saltire, the Welsh Dragon or the Ulster Banner.

It is about a red poppy: the symbol by which we are united.

It is about death, and life;
duty and sacrifice.
It is about the past, and tomorrow;
honour and respect.
It is about Britain, and the world;
the British and all peoples who stand for liberty and justice.

Remembrance Sunday transcends partisan politics, religious rivalries and petty dimensions of political correctness.

It is simply about what it means to be British.

And one action this week by the Prime Minister exemplifies this spirit.

On a visit to China to reach out in friendship and bolster our trade, David Cameron sported a red poppy.

To us, it is symbolic of our war dead and has been since World War I, when the flowers grew on battlefields.

To the Chinese, the poppy is symbolic of national shame and humiliation, reminding them of 19th-century conflicts with Britain when they fought and lost two Opium Wars. Those resulted in the UK forcing the Chinese to open their borders to trade, including in the narcotic derived from the Asian variety of the poppy. Britain also gained the territory of Hong Kong, which was not handed back to China until 1997. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Second Opium War, which ended when the British and French armies arrived in Peking, as Beijing was then known, and destroyed the emperor’s Summer Palace to remind the Chinese of their defeat.

It is reported that the Chinese authorities requested that the Prime Minister and his delegation remove their poppies from their lapels before they arrived in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where they were greeted by Premier Wen Jiabao and inspected an honor guard of the People’s Liberation Army.

David Cameron refused.

A lesser man would have acquiesced or simply have re-scheduled the whole visit in order to avoid any embarrassment.

In addressing an audience of students in Beijing, the Prime Minister told them that multi-party democracy, a free press and independent judiciary make Britain stronger, and he urged China to open up its political system.

The poppy is a remembrance not only of the millions who have died, but of what they died for.

Lest we forget our liberty, traditions, faith and democracy, we will remember them.


Anonymous Byrnsweord said...

Very eloquently written, Your Grace.

14 November 2010 at 10:26  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Our service was very well attended today .It was very moving to see people pay their respects during a time when there are theaters of conflict in which our armed forces are serving .

14 November 2010 at 13:44  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

As an ex serviceman I know what the lads and lasses are all about, and today is their day Your Grace, well said.

14 November 2010 at 14:08  
Anonymous Bede said...

Chinese susceptibilities about (opium) poppies are quite understandable. It should have been clearly explained to them that the poppy we wear to commemorate our war dead is the common poppy (Papaver rhoeas), the Flanders poppy, not the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum).

14 November 2010 at 14:45  
Blogger Kevin said...

Well done David.

14 November 2010 at 15:04  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Yes,well done to Cameron for standing firm over wearing the poppy. Such a shame then that he has betrayed everything that the poppy stands for, everything that our armed services fought for. I can't forgive him for that.

14 November 2010 at 15:08  
Anonymous len said...

We all owe the fallen in past and present wars a debt of gratitude for they lost, and are loosing their lives to preserve our freedom.
Our freedom which includes freedom of speech and ideas has been attained at a price which should not be surrendered to the restrictive and repressive dogma of Political Correctness.

14 November 2010 at 15:50  
Blogger anarchyintheuk said...

This is jingoistic crap. You remember what exactly? The people who refused to go over the trenches in WWI and were executed as traitors? The Polish airmen who fought for this country, their off-spring now being treated as scum in the Country they saved? Yankee scum who still celebrate mass murder in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

My father, a veteran of WWII, who had me raised by a nanny and sent me off to a Public School because he couldn't be arsed.

14 November 2010 at 16:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like your Dad had you sussed from a very early age mate.

14 November 2010 at 16:15  
Blogger anarchyintheuk said...

@Anonymous, you still slaver over him. How many people did he kill, simply as collateral?

Remembrance of what? Murder in the name of a uniform?

14 November 2010 at 16:31  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

We can pay the fallen no greater honour than to preserve and safeguard what they gave thier lives for.

14 November 2010 at 16:58  
Blogger Alcuin said...

Oratory can be impressive, but sometimes silence is more so. I was once at the Grand Canyon. It was silent. It just sat there, 10 miles across and a mile deep and silently uttered: I was here before your kind, and I will be here when you have all gone.

Free from the platitudes of the Political Class that patronises us once every five years and lectures us in between, thousands of ordinary people offer simple and silent support for those who gave us our freedom, and who protect it in the face of yet another assault. The simple words uttered by an old soldier are worth more than the hours of talk that strain the air conditioning systems of Westminster: When you go home, tell them of us and say: 'For your tomorrow we gave our today'

I think Maggie had the appropriate response for Mr. Anarchy when she addressed the sanctimonious Benn in the HoC: "The Honourable Gentleman would not enjoy the freedom of speech that he puts to such excellent use unless other people had been prepared to fight for it".

14 November 2010 at 17:09  
Anonymous Oswin said...

anarchyintheuk @ 16.11

I think the modern idiom is : 'get over yourself' ... it is an embarrassment to read your words; not because of any inherent worth, hidden truth, or guilt; but because you behave like a 'blubbing' is sickening!

14 November 2010 at 17:14  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

And to think we have given our freedom away so easily to the monster of the EU. How the fallen must be turning in their graves...We're no more free now, than we were then. All these deaths and for what?

14 November 2010 at 17:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YG has got it wrong, alas. The red poppy as become a symbol of British militarism, and a psychological crutch to those who chose to fight in WW2.

How will ever tear ourselves away from warfare if we insist that we "honour" the "sacrifice" of those who butchered people in other lands. Face it, YG, we are breeding a new generation of war criminals.

I agree with Remembrance Day as a day to remember, with shame, our complicity in the death and suffering of countless millions of innocents worldwide in the 20th and 21st centuries.

God save the Queen!

14 November 2010 at 18:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SO,all those people who died with the aforementiond banners fluttering as their rallying point.
All those who defended those colours to death did so, so that we could be ashamed to wave those same colours that they marched so proudly behind, that they served and loved unto death, lest we be accused of jingoism, lest we upset the liberals and the colonists,by being PROUD of standing up and fighting for what we hold dear.
Your reasoning is sadly flawed.

14 November 2010 at 18:29  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...


Come along, guys, anarchyintheuk obviously had a severe problem in his relationship with his dad, and his dad clearly had emotional issue problems, as did so many other men of that generation.

If we'd had that kind of upbringing, namely no paternal love, dumped off the boarding school....well, we might have turned out the same. In fact, a good friend of mine DID turn out the same, an anarchist of the first magnitude. (He's a great guy, BTW)

And our unfortunate correspondent has a point about the shell-shocked who were shot as cowards after surviving horrific scenes in the WW1 trenches. The british army has a lot to answer for from those days.

But I do take issue with him over the Poles. They have, you might be aware, taken over Reading. I have a great sympathy with the Poles, they are good people, but I don;t quite see why we we have to have a Polish population in the UK that is larger than that of Warsaw.

It was expected (sic) that 20,000 Poles would choose to come to the UK with our open-border policy courtesy the eu. The official figure (I expect the real one is a lot more) was 800,000.

Why? When did we vote for this?

And, surely, my dearest anarchistintheuk, you can see that some folks might not be desperately happy at close on a million foreigners turning up on our doorstep uninvited. (Just as well that they're white, otherwise I'd doubtless be accused of racism)
It's not so mych "treated as scum", but "why are they here, and must we hear nothing by Polish in our our streets?

PS I don't live in Reading

Old Grumpy

14 November 2010 at 18:40  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

Lest we forget our liberty, traditions, faith and democracy, we will remember them.

Some of us can remember when we had the liberty to tell a joke without fearing arrest, when our traditions were respected and bound us together, when faith was synonymous with Christianity, and when we, a sovereign nation, governed ourselves.

Some of us can remember that country for which millions gave their lives. It is no more. Their sacrifice has been betrayed.

14 November 2010 at 19:13  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Your Grace

I have tried many times to be an atheist, I have made untold attempts at it but it doesn't work, I keep talking to God so I have thrown in the towel and I am calling myself a Christian. I feel so much happier and at ease without having to make any excuses to my self or to anyone else. I am fully aware of what I should and should not do, of what is sinful and what is considered moral and right, but I cannot hope to change much of a great deal when I struggle to even control my own mind.

I pray and I listen daily.

War is shit Your Grace. There is no other way of putting it. Killing other people is not good and cannot ever be excused, but let me tell you this, it wouldn't take much for me to fall foul; a gun, a uniform and a war, at the very most. It only ever hurts the living, and the longer you live, the longer it hurts.

The big problem for me these days is the blurring of the big picture, and the lack of focus over what it is exactly that we are dying for. Mr anarchyintheuk is angry, and I would say confused. I certainly do not slaver over anyone, I am confused also, and I simply feel it is right to remember them. They had to deal with the reality of war and armed conflict; orders and discipline. They were real people with emotions and conscience who had very little choices in the face of death and destruction.

The struggle between good and evil will undoubtedly claim many many more, and until the day comes when the lamb will lie down with the lion, and the sword is turned into the ploughshare, then will will continue to remember them with solemnity and due respect.

Mr anarchyintheuk, I am sorry about your childhood, you are an orphan of the destructive nature of war which is obviously going to challenge you throughout your life. I hope you can use some of the energy it generates in you for making a difference no matter how small.

14 November 2010 at 19:24  
Blogger niconoclast said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

14 November 2010 at 19:29  
Blogger niconoclast said...

Perhaps it is as well all those noble souls who laid down their lives in European wars are not alive today to see what slaves we have become to our Brussels taskmasters.Was their sacfrifice in vain? I think so alas.

14 November 2010 at 19:31  
Anonymous Hilda said...

Oh yes, we have betrayed their sacrifice. We betray it further still, every time we obey a law from the euSSR; every time we pay them our money.

As for the Whited Sepulchre, Clown Cameron... Why did he take his poppy and his lies so far away? Did he think that nobody would hear him? Or is he just showing the Chinese the technique of lying and fooling all the people all the time?

Otherwise --- How come he didn't do this particular number in euroland?

Oh --- and why did we have to pay for the whole slew of them to go to the party in China?

14 November 2010 at 21:22  
Blogger Owl said...

My father dug people out of the rubble during the war years and my mother worked for the Admiralty (uniformed clerical work).
As a child I remember them wearing the "green" on St. Paddys' day and wearing the poppy on remembrance day.
The poppy was a symbol of the values that many died for. I think that "freedom" was probably the most important of these "values".
The Brits (English, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and Southern Irish) respect and honour the people of the poppy.
It is a crying shame that Cameron honours the poppy but not the values that it represents.

14 November 2010 at 22:48  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

I think we need to remember a few things.

1 Douglas Haig commuted the vast majority of death sentences.

2 His devotion to building the Britsh Legion not only assisted the wounded, but by keeping the ex service organisation non political. Almost every other European country had factional- mainly excessively nationalist ex serviceman organisation. In UK men of all classes and politics remembered decently together.

3 Our war memorials make no distinction between officers men aristocracy etc. This is important.

4 The poppy is no more or less than the soldiers choice to remember their lost friends. Those who equate it with Empire, militarism, or anything else are ignorant self- righteous poseurs.

14 November 2010 at 23:01  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Some good comments, Your Grace, from wise Owl and Mr Sewell.

Mr Owl, it is encouraging to see you recognise the Southern Irish as Brits. This communicant has always thought that we were all 'family' with much more in common than that which has divided us.

Given the economic disaster that is starting to afflict Ireland courtesy of the EU, and given the UK's own economic situation, it is surely time for political leaders on both sides of the Irish Sea to have a very long, very frank and very constructive conversation. One can easily forsee the Irish electorate turning against the EU. And then what? There are clearly a number of options for Ireland and the UK which should be explored, jointly.

Would you trust Cameron to get it right on the UK side? If W.E. Gladstone were still alive it would not be necessary to ask that question!

15 November 2010 at 02:26  
Blogger OurSally said...

@Jared Gaites
>I pray and I listen daily

And does you god speak to you and what does it say? One presumes you actually understand Aramaic or whatever the Bronze-age Yahweh-class deity speaks.

15 November 2010 at 07:21  
Anonymous Tony B said...

For me it is simply about remembering the terrible sacrifices made by my, and our, forebears. A packed church, a rousing speech by a navy veteran in his eighties, who talks of the sacrifices made by ordinary families, the horror of war, and the duplicitousness of politicians. People are there for all sorts of different reasons. And this day is not the day to argue about them.

15 November 2010 at 09:03  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Whilst watching the ceremony on TV my 24 year old daughter remarked, “we do this sort of thing so well” to which we all agreed. It is not often that I share moments of solemnity with my family (apart from funerals), we are usually joking or arguing!

Cranmer said It is simply about what it means to be British. and I agree with that. Despite the continual bombardment of celebrity culture and reality trivia there is something in our character that responds to the authentic and genuine. As a nation we can do “dignity” without it seeming pompous or false.

Our character has been defined as much by our geography as anything else. We are a small nation living on a small island at the periphery of a large continent. We should have been insignificant but we have been anything but. And for this reason, for many, there is still a good deal of pride in being British.

Some may say that this pride is misplaced in that for several hundred years we roamed the globe seeking to dominate and exploit, whilst this is true we have left some remarkably positive legacies, most notably in India as well as having created some terrible problems, for example in Africa.

Despite this chequered history the sacrifice that the armed forces have made for us is not in doubt and the heroism that they have showed particularly in the defence of their comrades continues to be an inspiration that crosses the generations. Our personal lives, which often become bogged down in the mundane and frankly unimportant, are suddenly punctuated by the report of another act bravery from Afghanistan.

This little island nation still has much to offer, so let’s be proud of our character but let’s also look to the future and not be bogged down by tradition and past glories.

15 November 2010 at 10:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

15 November 2010 at 10:37  
Anonymous Tony B said...

going back to that packed church - why can't that happen more often? so many people there, not enough pew space. normally wouldn't go though, for a variety of reasons, one of which, full off people looking down their noses at you. it seems to be their club, not mine.

15 November 2010 at 11:23  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Our Sally

Sorry for taking so long to reply but I have been busy working.

You are asking if God speaks to me, and what does He say and what language does He use.

I can only be as honest as possible here. I never hear anything in any language that is used for speaking or in the written form. It's more about cues and signs, and the reasons that I attribute to this is that we are in no position to communicate with God this side of the burning bush unless He manifests Himself wilfully.

An excellent book by CS Lewis is 'Till We Have Faces'. It's a huge mystery that I can only do disservice to with my own feeble understanding so I will have to say that until you hear God for yourself then you will have to make do with your own interpretations of what others tell you.

Read as much as you can, especially CS Lewis in the early years of your faith. Read Till We have Faces, and then go to this link HERE and listen to the most excellent Peter Kreeft and his analysis of the book, it's fantastic.

What does God say to me? Get a grip!

15 November 2010 at 17:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said Your Grace!

However, I fear we are losing daily the freedoms our forefathers fought for.

The other week, while passing through Heathrow, my father, aged 87 and wheelchair-bound, was treated like a suspect terrorist, frisked and spoken to most rudely (by someone called 'Baath' if you please) and when he objected, was threatened with arrest and refusal to board the plane. And the purpose of our trip? To lay the poppy wreath he was carrying at the memorial where his comrades fell 66 years ago.

Lest we forget indeed.

15 November 2010 at 18:22  
Anonymous Tony B said...

CS Lewis unfortunately talked a pile of nonsense.

16 November 2010 at 12:11  
Blogger Claire Khaw said...


The fact that previous generations of soldiers died in other wars has no bearing on the state of our liberties if we pursue mad and silly foreign and domestic policies.

I thought the Muslims used this superb opportunity to remind the sentimental British that their soldiers are dying for nothing more noble than Israel, Bush, Blair, Brown and Cameron, and dying only to provoke the hatred, ridicule and contempt of the rest of the world.

The Chinese were certainly trying it on with Cameron. You can be sure they will keep trying it on as they get stronger and we get weaker, because of our unprofitable domestic and foreign policies.

If Muslims were sent by God (if He exists) to plague the Godless Western nations, there must have been a very good reason for that.

16 November 2010 at 16:08  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Claire Khaw @ 16.08 .... As Jared said elewhere, there's something bloody scary about you ... did you arrive in this country via Sigourney Weaver???

16 November 2010 at 18:05  

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