This article was written for the News & Star.
This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday, a very significant day in our national calendar. We honour the day on the Sunday closest to Armistice Day – which this year happens to be on the Saturday before. Armistice Day itself originates from the end of the First World War when on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour when the war came to an end.
The minute silence we observe on Remembrance Sunday was moved from Armistice Day for a sadly ironic reason – so that there would be no weekday disruption in preparation of war materials during the Second World War.
Part of the reason we take a moment to reflect is so we can be thankful for the end of those two great wars. But another reason is to remember the sacrifice that British service men and woman have made for this country over many years since, during, and before in all conflicts.
I have always found the occasion very moving and the service at the Carlisle Cathedral and afterwards in the square captures the essence of the act of remembrance. We in our city remember the loss of hundreds of thousands of young men and women who saw their lives brought to a premature end in the interests of protecting our freedoms. The scale is enormous and the loss incalculable.
When we look across the world and realise that still only 29% of the people now live in what we would call a democratic and free country, the sacrifice becomes even more poignant.
There has been talk about this weekend’s Remembrance events being disrupted in London. I very much hope this does not come to pass. This would reflect badly on many. Remembrance is about acknowledging the loss in all wars, even those conflicts that we may not have agreed with. It is about the military services and their individual and collective contribution and sacrifice. It is absolutely not about our own individual views on the rights and wrongs of any particular war or global event.
Sadly, we do appear to live in a more unstable world where there are ever increasing risks of further conflict over and above those that are already going on. We need to ensure that we have the appropriate military strength to safeguard our country and its interests, as well as, at times, give support to others.
Therefore, when we remember the sacrifice made by those who came before us, we must also ourselves do what we can so future generations can enjoy the freedoms we have today. Because truly honouring the sacrifice of those in the past means honouring the reason it was made in the first place.