Over the years some people have questioned remembrance and the wearing of a poppy, saying we are Glorifying War.
It is worth remembering that Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, are not about war, but about the people who fought in the war and paid the ultimate sacrifice or were so badly injured their wounds haunted them year in and year out for the rest of their lives, often fading as crippled and broken men.
Such thoughts came to mind a few years ago, when the morning of Remembrance Sunday found me on The Somme Battlefield, in Northern France; an eighteen-mile front so well written in British history.
My first stop that morning was for an old friend, one I had visited a number of times, an old friend who died on 1st July 1916, The First Day on The Somme. But he was not a soldier. Captain John Green was a doctor.
On that morning he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour in the face of the enemy. His award was for going into no man’s land and rescuing a colleague caught on barbed wire and unable to free himself.
That morning John Green untangled him and managed to drag him to a nearby shell hole where he dressed his wounds, despite the torrent of rifle and shell fire all around him. After dressing his wounds he continued to drag him back across no man’s land to the safety of his own trenches and nearly succeeded in doing so when he was killed. John Green now rests in the corner of the cemetery under the shade of a tree.
I had my moment of Remembrance as I left a Poppy Cross by his grave and had my own two minutes silence standing by him, as I did thoughts of his brave actions and that moment of humanity in what must have been absolutely horrific conditions were in my mind, not about war, but the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice in war.