Cool remembrance

A few weeks before he died, my father let me hold on to one of his hats, a rather elderly tweed trilby type, which I always wear around this time. Armistice Day, November 11th - today - is the anniversary of my mother's death, so it seems a good way to maintain remembrance of them both. Then, a couple of years ago, frustrated by the fact that I kept losing my Remembrance Sunday poppies, no matter how carefully I pinned them on, I stuck my poppy into the hatband, thus adding another layer of remembrance. My parents were teenagers in WWII - with my father spending several months in a German labour camp, before being liberated by US troops - and both my grandfathers were soldiers in WWI, so today's remembrance, for me, is on so many levels.

At the chaplaincy this morning I - or rather my hat - received several compliments. Where had I got it? Over coffee, I explained its significance to a couple of young women. That's great, they said, and not only do you get to do your remembering, but you look cool as well!

Reader, I'm heading for fifty, and women half my age have just told me I look cool...!

I walked home down St Giles, resplendent in sunshine and copper and gold leaves. The bells of St Mary Magdalen and St Giles rang in unison, as the crowds began assembling for the Service of Remembrance by the war memorial. We had our own silence and prayer at 11AM, warm sunlight and stillness streaming through our prayer room window. It was an opportunity to quietly recall loved ones as well as those who, in every generation, have paid the ultimate price for decisions made by politicians... and to add our prayers to so many, for a spirit of peace and reconciliation throughout the world.