Remembrance Sunday felt the same this morning but also felt different – if that makes sense. There as always at the centre of the day was the Cenotaph, the simple slab of stone erected a hundred years ago to act as a memorial to the dead of all armed conflicts. The Queen was there as always watching from the Foreign Office balcony. The two minutes silence, the wreath laying and the remembering so much sacrifice and loss. What was missing was the thousands of members of public who normally travel to Whitehall from all corners of the country. Also missing were many veterans who march past the Cenotaph after laying their wreaths each year. Thankfully, the sadness and feelings of gratitude to all those who lost their lives was still there too.
Remembrance Sunday is about those who gave – their lives, their health, their loved ones. Here at Jammy Toast we hope that next year sees all the veterans and members of the public return. General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, said some veterans might find Remembrance Sunday a lonely experience this year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, he said the guidelines would be “particularly tough on our veterans”, adding: “They traditionally have had the opportunity to get together and talk about their memories and their reflections, but equally to strut their stuff.”
Usually, about 10,000 people gather at the Cenotaph in Whitehall for the remembrance service. This year the event was closed to the public, the Royal British Legion and Legion Scotland advised people to observe the silence in honour of those who lost their lives in conflicts from their doorsteps. The public was also encouraged to share family histories and messages of remembrance online using the hashtag #WeWillRememberThem.
Prince Charles paid tribute to the nation’s armed forces for standing “side-by-side” with frontline NHS Staff and key workers during the pandemic. Speaking at Saturday’s annual Festival of Remembrance at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which was pre-recorded and filmed without an audience, the Prince of Wales said the country had endured “anxiety and grief not previously experienced in peacetime. In this challenging year, we have perhaps come to realise that the freedoms for which they fought are more precious than we knew, and that the debt we owe them is even greater than we imagined.”
Last Wednesday at Westminster Abbey, the Queen commemorated the 100th anniversary of the interment of the Unknown Warrior, who represents World War One soldiers whose place of death is not known or whose remains are unidentified.
Always a sad occasion, today was made worse by the pandemic, which hopefully we will have under control this time next year and normal service can be resumed!
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