Saturday, 7 June 2014

D-Day - 70 years on

I was able to catch some of the coverage of the commemorations of D-Day - incredibly moving to see the veterans visiting the beaches where the landings took place all those years ago.

I saw part of an outdoor service led by chaplains of the armed forces, followed by speeches from various heads of state, including a rousing speech from President Obama.  I loved the fact that the band played "The Day Thou Gavest" whilst the wreaths were being laid.

There was a certain informality to the proceedings, with The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh chatting with various veterans after the service, with the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge doing the same later on.

Listening to the BBC coverage, I learned some things about the landings I hadn't known before, such as the "mulberry harbours" used to overcome the lack of port facilities on the Normandy coast, and the various deception plans used to mislead the German forces.

There was some poignancy to the event, as would be expected - especially as the Normandy Veterans Association have taken the decision to disband later this year, due to dwindling numbers, a reminder that the events of the world wars are slipping out of living memory.

There was a fly-past from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - always an inspiring sight.

Next year will see 70 years since the end of World War II, and as mentioned above, the men and women who participated are diminishing in numbers.  It's so important that we remember the events of the two World Wars, not least so that those dreadful events can never be repeated.

We must also remember the sacrifices made - the cemetery in Normandy showed graves of 16, 17, 18 year olds - same age as some of the youth group at my church.  Their lives were tragically cut short fighting in order that we may have the freedoms we enjoy.

"When you go home, tell of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today"

1 comment:

  1. I agree - I look at the YP on a Sunday, and think '70 - and 100 - years ago, kids your age were in uniform and marching off to die, in order that future generations could live in freedom' - and I pray OUR youth will never see such horrors. Yesterday was both joyful- the theme of reconciliation and rebuilding, and poignant, remembering those who were lost or wounded.