Remembrance Sunday Dorchester
We went to the Remembrance service in Dorchester on Sunday. I never used to go as a child, or as an adult, until the last few years. I suppose my own experience of mortality, losing my dad then my brother in the space of a few years, has made it more meaningful for me. And in particular, since my mum has come to live near us, she pays her respects and remembers her dad who was gassed in the First World War, and her eldest brother, who was killed in the Second; along with her many cousins and uncles who had served, survived or died.
It was a large crowd, and many poppy wreaths were placed on the war memorial. The names of the men from Dorset who had lost their lives in the war in 1914 were read out. I thought, this is going to take quite a long time in two years time when we get to 1916 and 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.
There was a very distinct shared feeling of caring in the crowd. A heavy shower appeared and rained on us during the service and we had all forgotten umbrellas, but people shared and a young man next to me gave his coat to an old lady who was getting wet.I huddled over my mum and daughter to take as much of the rain as I could and save them getting wet.
It occurred to me that this was a key moment in every year when a large part of the community comes together and shares an experience; and how few of these shared moments we have now. I was also thinking, I really hope UKIP don’t try and exploit this particular social ritual. And of course they did – though not in Dorchester. In Chatham Kent UKIP laid a politically branded wreath.
But it also occurred to me that the most powerful symbol we use to remember the dead of wars (and indeed remember all our own dead) is the poppy, a wild flower. Poppies are probably the most recognised wild flower in Britain, because of the association they have with the fallen soldiers (and others) of the First World War.
We have a small flock of white doves in Dorchester. During the 2 minute silence, the white doves flew up and wheeled around behind the war memorial. These semi-wild birds are a potent symbol for peace; and I couldn’t help but think of the symbolism. I know it sounds corny, but it is true.
Nature has so much meaning to us, we use the poppy and the dove, and other elements of nature to signify deeply important moments, events and meaning in our individual and collective lives.
We need to remember that, and not let it slip away.