Here are a few of the memorials we saw:
|Royal Artillery Memorial, Hyde Park, London|
This side shows the figure of a dead artilleryman
and under him the words "A Royal Fellowship"
|War Memorial in Lyme Regis listing the names of the fallen|
in the two world wars
|On the wall of a house in Lyme Regis|
(I was thrilled to see this)
If you watched the royal wedding last month, you may have noticed a large, dark block of floor just inside the West Entrance of the Abbey (where all the guests and bridal party entered). The red carpet split and went around this block, and everyone walking the carpet had to go around it too.
That block is the memorial to the Unknown Warrior. On it is this inscription:
BENEATH THIS STONE RESTS THE BODY
OF A BRITISH WARRIOR
UNKNOWN BY NAME OR RANK
BROUGHT FROM FRANCE TO LIE AMONG
THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS OF THE LAND
AND BURIED HERE ON ARMISTICE DAY
11 NOV: 1920, IN THE PRESENCE OF
HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V
HIS MINISTERS OF STATE
THE CHIEFS OF HIS FORCES
AND A VAST CONCOURSE OF THE NATION
THUS ARE COMMEMORATED THE MANY
MULTITUDES WHO DURING THE GREAT
WAR OF 1914-1918 GAVE THE MOST THAT
MAN CAN GIVE LIFE ITSELF
FOR KING AND COUNTRY
FOR LOVED ONES HOME AND EMPIRE
FOR THE SACRED CAUSE OF JUSTICE AND
THE FREEDOM OF THE WORLD
THEY BURIED HIM AMONG THE KINGS BECAUSE HE
HAD DONE GOOD TOWARD GOD AND TOWARD
When we stood in the Abbey last year reading this, I cried like a baby. Even now it brings tears to my eyes.
It occurred to me today that in America we're a bit out of touch with our war dead. I live in a village which has a memorial wall listing the names of the fallen back to the Civil War. I recognize most of the names on the wall; they're the family names of neighbors and friends and people who come to my place of work.
But many of us here in America live in communities that are less than a generation old, filled with people who will move on before the next generation grows up. We often lack a sense of continuity and local history. Perhaps that's why I found the memorials in England so touching. They were personal tributes in an impersonal world; a recognition of shared struggles; an effort to ensure that the names of the fallen are not wiped from our memories.
Here is to all who have unselfishly given of their lives, their time, their health and their youth, in obedience to the call of duty and the "sacred cause of justice and the freedom of the world." May their sacrifices not be in vain.
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