Monday, November 12, 2007

The key to the garden of stone

Yesterday we took Cletus to the re-dedication of a WWII civilian war memorial. Although Remembrance Sunday is about fallen soldiers, it was good to remember the loss of life locally during the war. From the collection of names on the memorial, some must have been sleeping in their beds or gathered round the dinner table or sheltered together in the space under the stairs when the bombs fell.

This was how they were remembered:

slipping away

with plastic lettering slipping away.

But the memorial has been redone, with nice bronze plaques and raised lettering and new paving leading up to the memorial. And indeed it looks lovely. So yesterday, the rededication was held and they released doves and everything. We really, really meant to be on time. But we weren't. You see, the memorial is at one end of the cemetery and although we come from that direction we have to walk down to the middle of this very long graveyard to get to the entrance and then walk all the way back. It's probably about 2/3ds of a mile and to be honest, we really just didn't allow enough time. We're still not factoring in how much time it takes to get a baby ready.

baby and Lambeth civilian war memorial
Baby and war memorial

So by the time we got there the doves were gone and the folks were breaking up. But we did get invited to tea and we were given the combination to the nearest gate. Obviously we can't abuse that, but it saves us a quite a long walk along the busy road.

And I used the combination today to slip easily into the graveyard and funnily enough, the doves were back, just milling around, waiting. Two lovely white peaceful doves.

Last week, I also made my usual trip to the Garden of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. I noticed that the wreath to Arkansas soldiers wasn't there, I wondered if the old man who always brought a wreath for the Razorbacks who had treated him so well as a boy during the war was gone or if he just hadn't made the trip yet. I also noticed the crosses from the DoD (I guess) were the same ones from last year.

Field of Remembrance, Westminster
It's now US dead 3860, UK 171 and Other 133

Here's what I said about Remembrance Sunday last year and here's what Kathy has written this year helping us to remember the living and the dead.


Sam said...

Because I have an unhealthy affection for most things British, I tried to follow the various Remembrance Day activities online. It seemed to me that in most instances Britain has managed to preserve the intent of Remembrance Day or Veterans Day, or whatever it may be called in its various incarnations. Here in Texas, for the most part, Veterans Day is a time for a little more chest pounding than usual. It has less to do with the notion of sacrifice and more about triumphalism. I don't know, I could be entirely wrong. However, I did have a colleague tell me I shouldn't waste my time showing up at the wreath laying here on the Capitol grounds since, even though I've spent 8 years in the military, I'm not a real veteran 'cause I marched against this current war. Rightly or wrongly, I just can't imagine that being the operative meme in England.

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