Monday, July 04, 2011

A day to remember

This post is off topic.  It has little to do with Herbie or the canal we are on, but to do with where the canal has brought us.

I love being a Grandpa, but it reminds me with very great sadness, that I never had the opportunity to know either of my Grandads.  One died in a car crash when I was a month old, and the other was shot by some no doubt terrified German soldier on the Somme in 1916.  His remains lie in a cemetary in France. Some people take war memorials to be associated with "glorious" dead.  I just find them very sad and very moving.  And none more so that where we visited today.

Herbie now sits in the little village of Alrewas on the Trent and Mersey canal. 


Pretty isn't it?

Following several recommendations, a five minute bus ride from Alrewas today took us to the National Memorial Arboretum where those who have died in national service since 1945 are remembered. Not just military men and women, but firefighters, lifeboat men, victims of chemical experiments at Porton Down and of nuclear bomb tests and all sorts of others.

Non combatants from the second world war are aslo remembered. There is an oak wood there with over 2,000 trees.  Each tree represents a Merchant Navy ship sunk by enemy action.  The crews lost from these ships were not fighters. The lists describe them as greasers, or navigators etc.

The arboretum is a large site divided into lots of individual remembrance gardens.  However your eyes are inevitably drawn to the mound where stands the Armed Forces Memorial, only four years old. 

Inside its sweeping curved walls are the names of every man or woman killed in UK military service since 1945.  There are lots and lots and lots of them for every single year since 1945. 

Most chilling of all was the huge blank wall on the right hand side.  Waiting for new names.

This place is no celebration of military conquest.  I overheard many conversations from the other visitors and all were about the terrible waste of lives.

I had never heard of this place before. You might have your own views on such things, but I would be keen to take the grandchildren here.  They should know the price of military adventure.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sir, your description pays tribute to those brave people, and like others I too believe that such things are a tragic waste of human life.

John

Anonymous said...

Very moving. Definitely a place to take the young'uns.
- Carrie

Anonymous said...

we visited the arbotoreum when we were in Alrewas last year and were equally moved by the whole ambience. Well worth the visit-wish we has known about the bus as we walked which was not so good!

Richard=NB Pendle Warter

Sue said...

Vic loves being 'BamBam'. The name has stuck as the oldest granddaughter had trouble saying Grandad. It is BamBam from all four of them now.

I can smile too when I remember what my eldest daughter called my father.. "GoGo" A good attempt at first speach from her, but yet again GoGo it is, and he has his five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren

GoGo it is! :)

Maffi said...

What the Arboretum tells us is the cost of Freedom. If we chose Peace over Freedom we WILL lose them both.

These lives were not wasted and the instant anyone says they were they cheapen the reason those lives were given.

Until the World signs a paper to say they will not fight anymore there will be a need for such sacrifice, if only to preserve a person's right to say how ‘pointless’ it all is.