Taking part in the annual Remembrance Day activities is one of the tasks that you are invited to undertake as a local Councillor. Although not the most difficult of tasks that you have to do when you are a councillor, it is certainly one of the most humbling, and in my view most important.
When we think of Remembrance Day and the events that take place, I think most people would automatically think of the Cenotaph commemorations in London, where royalty, most powerful politicians in the land, foreign dignitaries and thousands upon thousands of veterans come together to honour and remember those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.
The national memorial ceremony is a poignant event but the thousands of local commemorations that take place across the country are just as, maybe even more so.
For example, in Port Seton, where I was this year, well over hundred people of all ages, genders and backgrounds attended or took part in the parade from the Legion to the Memorial. Wreaths were laid by many different organisations and groups representing a wide range of organisations such as the Legion, the Scouts and the football club. It demonstrates that the feeling that we need to and must remember exists in our communities. It isn’t just held by those that have served or lost someone but by people throughout our communities who understand that our freedoms are not guaranteed or ordained but have had to be won and held.
And it is important that on the 100th Anniversary of the First World War that we do remember those who went to fight in that terrible conflict. They weren’t professional soldiers for the most part, they were ordinary men who formed the backbone of Kitchener’s new civilian army. The First World War was the war where it was the miners, bakers, farmers who went to war voluntarily and didn’t come back.
In Prestonpans for example, 143 names are included on the memorial. Prestonpans in 1914 was a village, much smaller than it is today. The impact that those deaths, the sheer scale, must have had on the community is unimaginable and this was repeated across East Lothian, Scotland and the world on a scale we can only hope will never happen again.
They went for many reasons including the promise and belief that this was to be the war to end all wars. Sadly, as we now know that was to be case, but I can hardly think of more noble and honourable reason to fight than the belief that you were ensuring those that came after you would never have to take arms. That is why I remember each year of the 11th day of the 11th Month and always will.