Remembrance Day 2021 : Commemorative Address.
Once again, it is my respected pleasure to stand in front of you, and to see so many friends & family, and other members of the congregation gather together to mark this important day.
The past two years have seen the world turned upside down, in a way that was unimaginable to us all, before it ever happened.
So many have lost loved ones, friends, colleagues, or even someone they barely knew, to this pandemic. People who should not have died, have died, but also many of those who were not expected to be able to play the odds, have by the grace of God been able to fight it & come through it as survivors. Those lucky ones.
And so, you may wonder, why I am here, today talking about the Coronavirus Pandemic, when we should be focusing on our Soldiers of War.
When I was first thinking of what I might say in front of today, two things jumped out at me very clearly.
The first was that I had to recognise the vast frontline medical teams & services, and all the related personnel, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, and still do; in order for each & every patient to receive the very best medical care possible. And as has been with so many wars, not an insignificant number have perished themselves, in the line of duty, all the while having forsaken their own health, safety & comfort in order to serve.
And so, to all of those fantastic, exceptional, selfless & giving medical personnel, we salute you !
Many of you may recall that I once was a broken soldier, who was quite literally put back together through the tireless hard work, dedication & medical skill & expertise bestowed upon me over 31 months, following a brutal assault, which left me in a coma, and on a life support machine for several weeks. So to me, this is as personal as it gets.
The second was to give you some insight & perspective of scale.
No one can argue that the Coronavirus pandemic has not only changed the face of the world which lies in front of us today, but that it has also derailed so many things, and affected so many people in so many ways.
I know of at least two people who have committed suicide during this time, unable to cope with the deep, dark, endless depression that had enveloped them during the Lockdown. And as someone who himself suffered debilitating depression & despair, after I was medically discharged from the Army, I can only too clearly recall how destitute & fearful I had felt.
These two young men, were fitness professionals like myself. Young, strong, healthy, fit men, who have been cut in the prime of their lives, because they could no longer do what made them who they thought they were.
And so, to me, these two young men I knew, drew parallels, to all the War Veterans, who return home, to nothing. Who have to rebuild their lives, from the bottom up, much like I did, in order to make a new life, in a new world & to find a new way of living in it.
And the second thing I realised was, that this pandemic, which has so royally derailed the entire world, has taken a worldwide death toll of around 5,047,652 (five million, forty-seven thousand, six hundred & fifty-two) as at 7th November 2021, according to the World Health Organisation.
Yet remarkably, over 227 million people have also recovered from COVID-19 globally.
Now let me ask you to think, that across the First & Second World Wars, 60 million people died. Yes, that’s right, 60 million people. That is nearly twelve (12) times more than the Coronavirus, has killed to date. And that’s not even allowing for the inflation of the global population increase…
Or let me put it another way, the two world wars saw 3% of the entire world population wiped out.
Coronavirus so far has seen around 0.0006%. (zero point zero zero zero six percent)
And so, is it now as difficult for us to imagine what service the British Armed Forces give to us, for us to be able to have the freedoms & liberties that you & I enjoy.
Of the horrors and devastation, these British Armed Forces put upon their families & friends & what they live through too themselves. Of the vast ocean of suffering & loss, they endure, and embrace as a consequence of giving us, Great Britain, their service, so that we can sleep better each night.
So, as I look out across all of you, please know that there is a donation pot, and at the end of this, and will be asking you to dig deep, and show how much you support them too, by giving as generously as you can, to the British Legion, so that it can continue to provide financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and their dependants.
But before I do that, I would like to read this out to you :
If I stood by the tomb of the unknown soldier,
I would say , “sleep well today!”
All the nations on earth this sacred hour
Deep Honor to you will pay.
We know not who you are or how.
You went to meet deaths hour;
But we know you did not pale or falter,
We know you did not cower,
Here in your solitary grandeur
You sleep this Memorial Day.
You will not hear the eurologies
The words of praise we say.
But the deepest Honor a man can have.
Is yours eternally.
Not for conquest, but for principle.
To your death you crossed the sea.
Sleep well, o, unknown soldier
Nations kneel at your feet.
Under November’s cold dark skies.
May your slumber be long and sweet.
The Unknown Soldier, by Lenore Hetrick