Earlier this year I was fortunate to visit a number of the beautiful towns and cities along the Rhine.
One of the photographs I took in Strasbourg was of a War Memorial in the city’s ‘Place de la Republique.’
Many War Memorials focus on the names of the war-dead – each unique inscription telling of an individual life.
Others, incorporating imagery or sculpture work, may well show individuals clothed proudly in uniform, reflecting their war-time identity, their military rank and role.
This Memorial, inscribed only with the years of conflict, is a striking one. We see a woman with her two sons gathered on her lap. The sons have nothing which identifies their wartime service – rather they are stripped of all identity or protection. The mother, it is said, has lost her 2 sons – one who has died for France, the other for Germany.
The Alsace region was both French and German at different times during the years of deep conflict. Families were divided – but here are once again reunited in a scene of grief, loss and love. Here two soldiers are the sons of one bereft mother; here they are brothers with hands touching; here they are flesh and blood, human beings.
Once again in our villages, and in communities up and down our country and across the world, we will in different ways pause to ‘Remember’ on Armistice Day or Remembrance Sunday.
As the years pass, what peop
le’s memories are filled with, or shaped by, will differ. The questions however remain, ‘What are the hopes and longings which unite rather than divide us?’, ‘How far are we still from seeing the beauty and the dignity of one another’s humanity, whoever that ‘other’ is?’, ‘How long will we go on seeing newsreels of today’s warfare, and its associated atrocities, flash across our screens?’ ‘What will it take to break the cycle?’
So let us give the time to pause again this year and to ‘remember’ the conflicts and brokenness of past and present; let us give the time to stand again with the unresolved questions which have passed from generation to generation; let us give the time to express our hopes, voice our longings, offer our prayers - for a future where peace can take root and blossom.
Love & Prayers Carolyn The Reverend Carolyn A James
Our Act of Remembrance in Collingham, will be held in the Orchard Garden
at 10.45am on Remembrance Sunday - 12th November.
Our Service will be attended by members of the Royal British Legion,
and accompanied by Collingham Band
Wet weather contingency – we will move into the Memorial Hall.