We shall not forget

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

– Laurence Binyon

It is very easy today to feel grateful. I am grateful for my safety, and for the safety of my loved ones. I am grateful I sleep in a warm bed, and can fall asleep feeling safe and secure. I am grateful to wake up to a day that will bring me only joy and love and possibility.

But to go beyond that, to go to the men who fought and died, who went to sleep cold and alone, who woke up frightened with what the day will bring, unsure if they will see it’s end, gratitude is too small a word to express what I feel.

I think of my brother, asleep in the room next to me, dreaming and happy, and I feel myself torn apart at the thought of having him called up to fight in a war, to watch him march off into unknown danger, unable to protect him from the horrors I know he will face, having nothing but hope and prayer that I will see him again.

It’s that personal, deeply heartbreaking, soul-destroying aspect of war that is so incomprehensible to me. And I should be grateful that imagining such events is all I have to contend with. Not everyone at this moment can say the same. War continues all around us.

My grandmother has a letter she found after her mum’s death. It is a letter from her mum’s dad (my great-great grandfather) that he wrote to her as he left for war. It tells her how much he loves her, all the dreams he has for her, and his hopes of seeing her again.

He, like so many others, did not return and my great grandmother grew up without the man whom she loved more than any other, a man who didn’t get to raise her, or see her live the wonderfully happy life he had dreamed for her.

I think of the man who raised me and what a gift he is, how lucky I am to have him.

Today I will remember, and with every day that follows I will not forget.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

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