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Friday, November 11, 2011

Honouring the Memorial of Silence

LEST WE FORGET. That phrase means a lot in our present vocabulary, particularly on the Day of Remembrance. May it never be that we forget the uncommon sacrifice of those gone, lost in conflict.

But we too easily forget, also, the uncommon sacrifice of those that returned:

“Perhaps the only memorial that fully touches the enormity of war is silence. It was in silence that so many of our veterans wrapped themselves when they came back.” ~The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister of Australia.

Don’t Mention The War!

So many of us are, or have been, related to these; veterans from periods of dastardly significance; harassed in spirit and dogged by an unrelenting and faithless scourge, even as they landed back on peaceful shores.

If we didn’t lose them on the battlefield, we lost a sizeable chunk of them upon their return; living out their lives captive to what they saw, heard, touched, and experienced.

War made some of them better. Hard as that is to say. Still, it matured many a young man and young woman prematurely. Indeed, great has been, and perhaps is, the social cost. So, war made many of them bitter. And that’s not the half of it, for post-traumatic stress has become an all too common legacy that lingers; the effects echo through ensuing generations.

Learning to Live in the Light of Such Sacrifice

Do we owe our veterans any enduring recompense?

If we do, it’s about learning to live, solemnly, in the light of their sacrifice, to remember, honouring them by never forgetting, and championing the vision for social justice and peace, always.

But there is a more familiar practice for living than doing all things in response to such a legacy.

Such sacrifice bequeaths an urgency within each of our spirits. As our veterans returned never, perhaps, to speak of the horrors of war, so ought we honour such silence by returning regularly to thoughts of simple, unspoken thankfulness.

Only God knows what they went through. Only God knows why they were the ones selected for such a perilous ignominy. And though we honour them we cannot truly know the personal cost. Only the Lord could know or appreciate.

Instead, we enjoy life—and we should—because of their uncommon sacrifice; a sacrifice more common in their day, but still uncommon by the mode of today.

What is left to say?

Very little can be said to redeem what was lost, but we should not shrink from calling ahead in praise and thankfulness for these whom sacrificed so uncommonly.


For veterans old and young alike,

Whether dead or returned alive,

Thankful bonds we’re to strike,

For the hope we now derive.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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