Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Remembrance Day

11 November, 11am. London.

I am standing in the Merchant Navy memorial gardens near Tower Hill in London.
The wind is blustery, red-orange leaves fall from the trees around us, breaking the silence that is being observed.

My mind went back to my bike trip around Europe, and in particular to the Menin gate in Ypres and the surrounding fields in Belgium.
When I cycled through the area with my friend Richard, we couldn't believe the sheer number of military graves that dotted the countryside, and struggled to come to terms with the immense amount of lives lost in WW1, in that area alone.

In the days following Richard's return to London, I often found myself trying to imagine what life must have been like, living in the carnage, living around Death. I don't think I even came close to the reality.
I would stop, rest my bike against a tree or fence, and just sit and look, letting my mind wander, gazing over thousands upon thousands of white gravestones, and the poppies that grew among them.

While riding in the region I did pick a bright red poppy and placed it in my handlebar bag, to remind me not only of the blood-loss and the life-loss, but also of the sacrifice that every single person made for us, to enable us to live the life we have today.

In freedom.

The bugle starts up again, playing the Reveille, and brings me back to London; to a blustery day, to red-orange leaves falling like blood from the trees.

I remembered them.