I am remembering Ian. Ian was a mate who I served with in the Royal Navy. Ian died on 25 May 1982 when HMS Coventry was bombed and sunk during the Falklands conflict. Ian was 21, Ian and I had been ‘run ashore oppos’ for a couple of years going to rock gigs in Portsmouth and Southampton on his motorbike. I was 6 months ahead of him in my RN career, so I had left my ship by the time the Falklands conflict happened, but he was still at sea, and ‘is still on patrol’. Subsequently I have twice laid wreaths over the wreck of the Coventry and yes there was a sense of guilt that his body lay at the bottom of the sea and I was continuing my life (the last time I laid a wreath was some 26 years after his death, but it was no easier … I’m not convinced that ‘time is a healer’). I will be remembering Ian.
Maybe it’s a grandfather, or great uncle killed in the 2nd WW, or Korea or any one of the dozens of conflicts and wars that the British military have been involved in since the end of WW2. Some of these conflicts have been controversial (Iraq, Ireland, and Afghanistan for example), and that brings different challenges thinking about why it happened at all. Who are you remembering?
Or maybe you don’t actually know anyone personally who has been killed in conflict. Then how about friends who have served and are suffering with PTSD? We recently watched the Invictus games and were proud to see an ex RN Medic competing, who had been part of our housegroup. Whilst serving in Afghanistan with the Royal Marines she had been called to treat two Commandos who had been involved in an IED explosion. Neither survived. She was wracked with guilt and Invictus is helping her on the road to recovery. Who are you remembering? I will be remembering Ian … and Faith.
Or maybe it’s a wife or children of someone serving today who is left on their own for months at a time … that too is sacrifice. A widow or child left orphaned … that too is sacrifice. Who are you remembering?
Maybe it’s a member of your church, or the old fella who nurses a pint in the pub who served and has nothing but memories. Maybe it’s a doctor who has served in Afghanistan and now works in your GP surgery. Maybe it’s the homeless guy who sells the Big Issue, torn apart with survivor guilt after his patrol was blown up in Afghanistan. Who are you remembering?
Maybe it’s the policeman who suffers from flashbacks, or the paramedic who saw horrific things at an RTA … one of my shipmates Barry was killed in an RTA on the way home from the ship one evening, that does not make his sacrifice any less than others. I will be remembering Ian, and Faith and Barry …
Remembrance day is about remembering those who have made sacrifices for their country, in times of war and peace. Yes the focus is on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice but I am sure we all know someone who has made or is still making sacrifices for others. Who will you be remembering?
If you just can’t think of anyone personally … then remember Jesus. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice … for all of us when he died on the cross.
Greater love has no one than this – than to lay down his life for his friends.
Who will you be remembering? I am remembering Ian, Faith, Barry and …
Image Credit: James Harris