Today is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice. I am sure all of you know that already, and you have probably marked the occasion either privately or at a public service, no matter which country, ethnicity, religion or creed you may belong to. Both Roddy and I feel it is a day that celebrates peace more than victory, a day on which the whole world should remember the cessation of the immense and dreadful hostilities that ended or scarred the lives of so many, over one hundred years ago.
Roddy and I had grandparents who served in that terrible war, and we both had parents who served in that all-encompassing second war, the one that still resonates more, perhaps, with most of us. And of course, amongst all of you there will be some who have children or perhaps even grandchildren who serve today, who protect and hold dear the fragile peace that has meant that so many of our generation have never had to serve our countries in battle. All of them need to be thought of and thanked on this day, for there should be no barriers in remembrance.
For this reason, Armistice Day has always held a dear place on my calendar, for it is a day that also serves as a reinforcement of beliefs and ideals – that peace should be the only truth, and a truth that every country should strive to attain. For the millions of dead and wounded from both world wars, Armistice day is a shrine to both them, and their affected families, for whom no amount of gratitude is ever enough, and where a candle of hope should forever burn so that those dark times can be averted in the future.
Today, the bells across France seemed to ring for longer than ever, as towns and villages stood still in respect, a scene repeated across Europe and beyond. It is the most powerful of days, but also the most poignant, for no one now survives who fought in those terrible times. It needs no saying that we must continue to respect this date for as long as the world exists – for I am certain it is not just my fervent wish that there will never be another Armistice day again. Above all, today is a day to hold our children close, and make them understand, so a new generation never repeats the mistakes of the old.
“When you go Home, tell them of us and say,
For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today”
John Maxwell Edmunds