Rarely do I choose to blog on personal matters. Today, I make an exception.
Usually, I take a moment’s silence on remembrance day, along with millions of others. I do little else to mark it. As my children grow older and this world grows ever more fragile, this feels insufficient. I don’t know what I have in me to contribute to greater change, but silence alone will not suffice today.
I cast my mind back to my own childhood and recall this day was always marked by three things in my school years. It feels fitting, as I alternate between work, thought and distraction to revisit them.
A moment’s silence – in which to remember those who served, those who fell and also those who remained and rebuilt. This, at least, I have retained.
A reminder – what was fought over then is still precious today. It is not only the ways we come together that makes us wonderful, it the ways in which we differ. As an Englishman, I beg no forgiveness for offering Shakespeare’s words in place of my own as I look to describe my own precious corner of this earth.
This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of Majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise;
This fortress built by Nature for herself,
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear’d by their breed, and famous by their birth.
A moment’s joy – to remind us our work is not yet done. To uplift us, to inspire us. In those younger years, a rousing chorus of Jerusalem was the done thing. Today, I align more comfortably with a term I first heard from Mark Thomas – the happy athiest. I’ll thus choose to play this out with an instrumental version rather than the full hymn.
I hope it hits the right notes for you too.