"100 Years and Still No Peace ..... "
Over the last four years we have heard and told all kinds of stories which have helped us to engage with understanding the First World War. There have been powerful films and dramas such as War Horse. People have researched and told the stories of those who went from their village or town to the trenches, but did not return. Our Schools have explored the history and found ways to bring it to life – some have visited the battlefields and war graves – and on Remembrance Sunday the Longridge cluster of schools is performing a dramatic presentation at the Guild Hall. Others have researched their own family history and found people and stories about which they never knew.
I had known about one of my grand-fathers, who flew Sopwith Camels in the Royal Flying Corps, since I was a child – he had the wood propeller on the wall of his study, though he kept his stories to himself.
Over the last 4 years my cousin has researched the war records of my other grand-father and his two brothers. They were both killed at Ypres, one in 1915 and the other in 1917. Had my grand-father stayed at Ypres maybe it would have been him too, but my great-grand-mother wrote to the Prime Minister and asked if he could be posted somewhere less dangerous as she would like him to survive the war. The request was acted on he was posted to Dublin in the aftermath of the 1916 uprising.
Millions of people, each with stories of survival, of injury, of grief and anguish created a movement of Remembrance and the British Legion to look after those injured, suffering and bereaved, and to work for a peace that would end all wars. The first we continue to do, and do well. The latter remains wishful thinking as we live in a country which has been at war somewhere or other in the world most of the years since.
The prophet Micah spoke of ‘beating swords into ploughshares’ and of ‘making war no more’, so people could live in their homes with security. Is it possible? May be, if humanity tried Jesus’ suggestion that we should ‘love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us’, ...... but will we?
Revd Stephen Cooper