The Unknown Warrior – Not Forgotten

"Gordon Bryan"November 9th 2014 is Remembrance Sunday, with Remembrance Day on the 11th, and this year it falls as part of remembering the 100th anniversary of the start of Word War 1. I saw a piece about the tomb of the unknown warrior, and I thought it well worth sharing…

The first picture here is of the poppy display at the Tower of London. It was refused funding from government bodies when applied, but as the display developed it got more and more attention, and millions have come to see it. I went in mid September, and quite liked the picture with the Shard building in the background, making the point that in today’s modern world, we still remember.

The display is made of nearly 900,000 ceramic handmade poppies, one for each commonwealth soldier killed in the first World War. Many of those soldiers were not found, or unidentified – one of those soldiers, unknown, is buried in London…

"the unknown warrior"
The unknown warrior lies in Westminster Abbey in London. Originally suggested as an idea in 1916, one soldier’s body was picked in France on the 7th November 1920, with no way of knowing who it was.

The body was put into a coffin of wood from Hampton Court Palace, draped in the Union Flag, and was then treated with full military honours from that moment on.

"unknown soldier"
After being guarded on the train in Dover overnight, when the body got to London the procession took it past thousands and thousands of people lining the street, and up to the Cenotaph, which was unveiled as a new permanent structure to remember the dead, following pressure to make the previous wooden temporary cenotaph into a permanent one.

Then the unknown soldier was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey, and it’s the only place that the monarch will not step on.

Some people say that it’s time to move on from this annual marking, that we have sanitised and ritualised it so much that it has become meaningless. Other people say that we shouldn’t be celebrating war at all.

To both arguments, I disagree.

It’s not a celebration of war, it’s an act of remembering. It’s not meaningless to me, and I suspect it’s not meaningless to many others. It’s why so many people wear a simple paper poppy every year. It’s why the poppy installation at the Tower of London has had such an impact.

Bringing the unknown soldier home helped many a family grieve, which was the original idea – to give the loved ones of people who died abroad, somewhere at home they could go and see.

We still don’t know who the soldier is, but we do know that he died on a battlefield somewhere. He may have been a regular soldier, he may have been a volunteer, he may have been conscripted. It could be that a few months before he was an young innocent man working in an office, or on a farm, little knowing that he would die in a field somewhere, far from home, maybe cold, maybe hungry, likely terrified as hell.

I’m not going to forget, I’m going to remember.

Here’s a video about the soldier coming home to be buried.

‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,

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