At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.Lawrence Binyon For the Fallen.
At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. This was the moment when hostilities ceased. This was the moment that became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war.
I remember reading World War One poetry in English Literature in Year Eleven and the words, O what made fatuous sunbeams toil To break earth’s sleep at all? from Futility by Wilfred Owen have stayed with me all these years. The senseless slaughter of people in war horrified me and has ensured that I am a pacifist to this day.
What was impressed on me during those English Literature lessons was that soldiers volunteered out of love for their country, out of a sense of duty, and with a deep knowing that their lives could be sacrificed.
A few years ago, my husband and I visited the Australian Remembrance Trail which covers twelve sites along the Western Front of some of the most significant locations where Australians fought between 1916 and 1918.
It is almost impossible to believe that 46,000 young Australians died in this region and about 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner from a nation with a population of fewer than 5 million.
We were both moved to tears by the experience of walking the battlefields and remembering the sacrifices others made so that we could live in freedom today.
Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on the service of those who came before and also on our service.
How do I serve my family, my friends, God, my neighbourhood, my community?
Generosity of spirit and being of service to someone, something, outside of ourselves is a sacrifice. Everything important in life is about service–our legacy and significance come from service.
I’m not sure I could go to war and lay down my life in a military setting, but how can I lay down my life right now?
What am I willing to fight for? What am I willing to give?
These are important questions today as we remember generations of people who have laid down their lives for others.
Jesus laid down his life for mankind and that set the example for so many. Laying down our lives by loving our neighbour, giving generously, and serving are things we can all do in some way, shape, or form.
We can also be thankful and filled with gratitude for all who have served with a sacrificial heart.