The British Union Conference (BUC) Peace Garden was the venue for a Remembrance Day Service hosted by One Vision charity on Friday, 11 November. Captured 'Lest We Forget', this Armistice Day event brought together individuals from faith and public services. Several dignitaries, BUC leaders, diverse community figures, children and staff from Stanborough Primary School paused to take a retrospective look at a poignant moment in history, to mark the end of World War 1 and collectively share in this momentous day of observance and remembrance.
In this symbolic service of annual commemoration, at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, the past and present meet in the act of solemn acknowledgement. The observation of the 2-minute silence is a moment of reflection and reminiscence to honour the armed forces members who have died in the line of duty.
Unique to this year's One Vision Remembrance Day Service were the number of personal reflections that individuals shared.
Pastor Sam Davies – BUC Communication and Media Director, displaying a photograph of his father in war uniform, gave a moving presentation focused on his father's experience of serving alongside other Commonwealth soldiers during the war.
"My father was among this large number of Commonwealth service members who fought for the freedom we enjoy today. I still shudder when I remember one of the stories my father shared with us when growing up. He was a young soldier in his early twenties when he served."
Davies recounts the Divine intervention which saved the life of his father: "One of the boats from British West Africa was bound for Burma; my father said he didn't know what happened, but as fate would have it, they disembarked on the coast of Freetown in Sierra Leone. They later learnt that the boat they should have been on was bombed. He could have lost his life like many others, and I wouldn't have been standing here today."
Honorary Alderman Roy Clements looked back at a painful experience when as a 6-year-old, his father went off to war, and he did not see him for five years. The tears flowed as he recounted the sad memory.
Watford MP Dean Russell shared a poem he had written reflecting on fallen soldiers. The poem, scripted in the first person, depicts an individual whose life was sacrificed on the battlefield.
Watford Chief Inspector – Diane Whiteside read a poem from a colleague who penned his experience of serving during the war years.
As each presenter took us back in time, we could see the preserving power of God's grace to sustain and fortify those whose lives have been spared.
BUC Director Sharon Platt-McDonald gave the keynote address on the power of remembering and how God encourages us, even in times of war, to look to Him for strength.
We remember those who suffered an injury, whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, or relationally, and whose battle scars remind us of the evils of hatred, the trauma of violent conflicts, and the high price of war. May God restore them.
Two key attendees shared their impressions of the day's event. One Vision founder and CEO, Enoch Kanagaraj, states: "This was a moving moment for us all, as we took time to acknowledge the sacrifice of others, so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today."
Pastor Geert Tap, Mission Connector at One YMCA Christian Mission Team, said: "Listening to reflections of those living through wartimes, combined with poems and thoughts by dignitaries, including an expressive poem from the children from Stanborough Primary School, was a touching experience. Indeed, the occasion was a dignified morning to remember as we attended this solemn event on 11 November at 11:00 am. Thank you, One Vision, for organising and inviting!"
The power of remembering is captured succinctly in these nostalgic words by William Shakespeare:
"Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear."
With this event, we remember that 104 years ago, at 11:00 am on 11 November 1918, a peace agreement was signed between Germany and the Allies, ending World War One.
Each Remembrance Day, we reflect on the past to remember and acknowledge what has been. We reflect on the present so that we will never forget the significance of yesteryears. We look to the future, a world and time where peace will be a reality, as reflected in the book of Isaiah chapter 2 and verse 4, where the prophet Isaiah penned these words:
"…Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore" Isaiah 2:4.
And so we look with renewed vision, confidence and anticipation to a better tomorrow as recorded in 2 Peter 3:13, which reads:
"Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."
Also, find a summary video clip of the service here