We will remember them. The line from Laurence’s Binyon’s For The Fallen stuck out as the heart of Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade. As the crowds gathered at the memorial for the familiar yet favoured annual event, this line proved itself as a promise to be kept. However, it didn’t seem like a solemn obligation. There was a certain sense of jubilance in the air, an atmosphere of enthusiasm and willingness to honour the day. The buzz of community spirit seemed abundant and was seemingly rewarded with the weather conditions; an ideally crisp and sunny November morning.
As the ensemble neared the centennial of World War I, Binyon’s words strike with more relevance than ever. His poem, originally written for victims of the Great War back in 1914, has since been given a wider meaning in honouring all those fallen in combat. We will remember them defines the sense of duty that the day brings, a duty passed on through the generations. As the chattering crowd waited before the parade started, it was good to see an older standard bearer teaching a young scout how to properly handle the flag. It was a reminder that the baton has been passed, and will continue to be passed, through the generations.
The yearly tradition serves as a visible reminder for us to confront the uncomfortable realities of war, regardless of age. A lesson that is vital to a younger generation; many in attendance likely bought the latest Call of Duty game earlier in the week. The perspective of the day, one of harsh truths, is essential to recognize amongst the fictional portrayals of war that we’re usually exposed to.
The brass band started, cutting through the murmurs of the audience and bringing everyone to attention. As the parade marshal kept the procession in order,”Standard bearers have standards!” he yelled at one point, the Royal British Legion led the way to the memorial. They were followed by the 1181 ATC Squadron, with the Scout and Guide band in front of the Scouts, Guides, Rainbows, Cubs, Beavers and lastly the townsfolk as they bustled behind in succession. The tight percussion of the band set the steady rhythm for the march and the distinctive jingling of the xylophone rang out with charm in the fresh air. The tone was almost celebratory. If anything, for the community spirit that was demonstrated. It’s a rare occasion that brings out hundreds of people on a cold morning. That in itself is something to take pride in.
The mood shifted as the silence took over; the meaning of remembrance was well recognised. Even those too young to fully understand it felt the significance it held. Prayers and the Kohima Epitaph were read, as were the names of locals who didn’t make it back home. Thanks were given for those who did, as well as gratitude for the freedom they all helped preserve. As the parade marched onwards to the church, it left behind a sense of renewed gratitude and an assurance that we will remember them.