Remembrance Respect

Remembrance Sunday - crosses in church yard

Remembrance Sunday – crosses in church yard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the lych gate, Corley. Remembrance Sunday.

I’m late setting out. But I walk fast. can cover the ground. My camera? Think I’ll need it? Yes. Double back, wasting time I didn’t have in the first place, smiling to myself. Locking the front door I decide to take the car. Detour to avoid the parade. park. Good decision; time made up.

The road and grass verges are buttered with strong, low autumn sunshine. The stronger winds from yesterday that piled up clouds in interesting forms and colours have abated. Deep and wide tractor ruts scar the verges, left soft by heavy rain. Puddles reflect the acrobatic geisha-complexioned aspen leaves clinging to the whip thin ends of high branches. But today is clear. Big skies, pale blue.

Amplified voices, with pauses for emotion, fill and re-fill the spaces below and between the trees that surround the memorial stone. Black coated people, an impatient dog, unsettled perhaps to be in such a crowd, surrounded by the unusual stillness. A man wearing a bobble hat in the colours of the German flag (but upside down) a stray fallen leaf atop balancing like a random piece of accessorizing.

Quiet, solemn brass tones of background music, respectful and balanced support the ritual lowering of standards.

The silence. Eleven a.m.

Light winds bend the branches closer to the people. Leaves, lantern-flame yellow lime and dry leather toned oak – shiver like clouds of benign spirits. A few fall, mimic-ing earlier loss of life and energy. It’s appropriate, this falling through time towards shadows. I feel the gentle, insistent gravity pull of generations. We are all falling towards shadows.

 

I am alone at a Remembrance Sunday parade for the first time in many years. her at my hometown memorial for the first time in as many years. No official duties. It is liberating, giving me time to think. I notice familiar faces: those I was at school with. Equally I notice spaces where stood those who have been here in previous years.

Ceremony over. Poignant as always. Ritual done, the standards lead the procession back to church. I walk away, the opposite direction, needing some time to look at waters.

11/11/2012

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