I currently work at a Ministry of Defence establishment and this being Armistice Day there is always a service outside which starts just before 11:00am.
There are a few thousand people on site, with a mix of military and civilian personel. The first time I attended I was expecting a jingoistic service, but nothing of the sort. Senior leaders and military in their uniforms is the closest it ever gets. There is very little pomp and ceremony to be seen.
Today’s service included The Last Post and The Rouse (unless I am mistaken) played by a lone bugler from a balcony. There were short readings by various people and the Padre gave a short sermon which mixed some humour in with a serious message.
The theme of the sermon was for us to think hard about what we say, because the language now being used in public life is degenerating into dangerous territory. He reminded us of how fragile democracy was and how the way we behave can undermine it.
The two minutes silence took place in the sunshine, and my thoughts were with my 2nd Great Uncle, Private 43440 Alexander Solomons of 10th Battalion the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He died in the battlefields of Flanders on Friday, 28th April 1917 (6th Iyyar 5677). His body was not recovered, but he is remembered on the Arras Memorial. I have not been there yet, but one day I will go.
- Post image is “Arras Memorial” © Andrew Bailey 2014