Finding the right words to use as the opening of my return to blogging following such a long hiatus is much harder than I thought it would be. The reasons for my extended absence are complicated and involved; maybe I’ll share them here one day or include them in my memoirs, but for now – for a number of reasons – I’ll just say that a tumultuous year severely impinged upon my ability to coalesce my thoughts and experiences through the use of this blog.
It has, however, always been my intention to make a return to these (un)hallowed pages. Narcissism aside, I genuinely do find the whole process involved in producing a post to be somewhat somewhat cathartic. I’m able to better reflect on the events that have led to the subject at hand, which also perhaps allows me to consider something insightful that hadn’t occurred to me before. I also like to think that these posts are having a positive impact on other people’s lives in some way – even if it’s just the opportunity for colleagues to remember old friendships and reflect on the good times; I’m lucky to have been blessed with a lot of friendships throughout the course of my life, which has included plenty of opportunity for smiles and laughter.
Due to those elusive reasons mentioned earlier, it never quite felt like the right time to take the slow and purposeful steps that would be required to make a return to these pages. Although progress is now being made, life has been overly complicated in some respects. Another reason, however, that I have delayed my return is that I also wanted to ensure that my reintroduction carried depth and meaning, both for myself and anyone who took the time out of their day to read it (thank you to those who have done so by the way). I finally found the inspiration and incentive during a very personal moment of reflection and Remembrance.
The act of Remembrance should need no introduction or explanation, but if it does, please take the time to conduct some research and digest exactly why the world stands still at precisely the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of every year. The reasons are numerous and have grown over the years, they are also very personal to some, but they all essentially share the core message: the sacrifice of the few to ensure that loved ones remain free of tyranny and oppression should always be remembered by the many.
It’s no secret, of course, that I served with the British Army for several years, so the act of Remembrance has always carried extra depth and meaning for me. That doesn’t mean to say that I feel I have a greater entitlement than anyone who hasn’t served; we each have our own reasons for partaking in the two minutes of silence. For me, however, it is a very real opportunity to not only consider the sacrifices of those who have given their lives over the years, but also to reflect upon my own years in the service and send my thoughts out to those I know that are still serving.
This year in particular has carried even more depth and meaning, if that’s at all possible. Although I have been present at Remembrance Sunday ceremonies since my departure from the British Army in 2005, I have refrained from taking an active role in the parade. I can’t rightly state why either. Perhaps a lack of belief in my entitlement to call myself a veteran. I shouldn’t have needed more than one – I’m proud of both my time in the service and those I served with – but this year brought with it a double incentive to become involved, which in turn made me realise that I should never have let my own perceived inadequacies concerning taking part in the parade hold me back in previous years.
Towards the end of 2015, the second eldest of the KPLangers crew took it upon himself to join the Army Cadet Force – with only minor encouragement I might add! Helen and myself have been extremely proud of not only his achievements since joining, but also his growth in confidence and maturity. Being able to take an active part in Remembrance Sunday with him – standing beside him and feeling that extra depth of pride on so many levels – and the other members of the Army Cadet Force really brought home the intensity and significance of the event. A special thank you to Molly-J for the photos also. I know she certainly gained a new appreciation for the poignancy of the day, which was more than I could have asked for. Not at any other time did the words ‘For their tomorrow, we give our today’ have more meaning for myself than this Remembrance Sunday.
With my own reflections of the day itself and the years prior drawing to a close, I shall leave the immortal words of the poet Robert Laurence Binyon here as a tribute to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice:
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.