Remembering the Act of Remembrance

11/11 at 11:00. Following my recent article my two minutes silence this year held an added poignancy. Everyday for the past week I have walked past a war veteran standing at his stall of poppies, remembrance crosses and now even silicone bracelets. He stood tall, with his medals on display, attached to his lapel. He stood alone. On 11 November there was a queue at his stall, two hours before  the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Walking to work, I set myself a challenge of counting how many people were wearing poppies. In the 10-15 minutes it took me to arrive at the office, I counted 22 people.

I once walked along the trenches of Flanders Fields in France and walked across the uneven ground where soldiers fell. Sitting here now I feel angry that as a nation we are forgetting.  Walking to work I was wondering how different our lives would be if Hitler’s Germany won the war. It struck me that we are so worried about our own lives, so worried about getting from A to B that we forget what is important and in essence what bought us here in the first place.  

Remembrance Day is not only for the British nation. A Metro article on 11 November reports on ‘the sacrifice made by Muslims fighting for Britain in the World Wars. More than 3.5 million soldiers from the Asian subcontinent fought for Britain in the two conflicts, with tens of thousands killed in action.’ The 2.5 million men and women who volunteered to stand beside their British counterparts remains the ‘biggest volunteer force in the history’. During World War I, more than 47,000 died and 65,000 were wounded within the Indian Army alone. In World War II, 36,092 from 2.5 million men and women were killed, 64,354 were wounded and almost 80,000 were imprisoned.

‘Among the volunteers was Noor Inayat Khan, a radio operator for the Special Operations Executive. She was parachuted into France in 1943 to send messages from the Resistance to London. Khan was eventually captured and tortured. The Germans classified her ‘highly dangerous’ and she was sent to Dachau, where she was executed in 1944′.

Of course, they were Sikhs, Hindus and Christians as well as Muslims standing side by side fighting for the same cause. The Union Jack is a symbol of unity and diversity in one, a union of countries as represented by the existence of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on the same land and across the same sky. Remembrance Day is for everyone. It is for black and white, Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu. It seems ironic that what we were all fighting for, we are now fighting against.

Of course (or should I say unfortunately) Remembrance Day is a day that strikes a chord with many in this country more so than nine years ago when the war in Afghanistan began. With each coffin wrapped in the colours of unity and diversity that returns to British soil, a family is forever broken. It does not hurt to put on a poppy, wear a bracelet, donate a little change. Spend two minutes to stand in remembrance and in respect for the fallen. Whether they have lost their lives, their limbs or time spent with growing children, we should remember them and the sacrifice they made.

So as the poppies fall during the Remembrance Day service today, as the sounds of the Last Post ring out, I will stand and remember those who died, and those who fought under the same flag, my flag. I will stand in remembrance of Noor Inayat  Khan, I will stand in remembrance of the Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, I will stand in remembrance of my Grandpa.

I will stand in remembrance of a time we all believed in the flag, we believed in unity and we all believed in diversity.


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