What is the most important part of November for you? For many, I’m sure the answer is Guy Fawkes Night, maybe Diwali, but for some, as it would be for me, I hope the answer is Remembrance Day. A hallowed, sombre day, it marks a time of deep reverence in our calendar for those that gave their lives to a cause much greater than ourselves, often emerging as community ceremonies - one of which I had the great honour of being a part of. 


As it does every year, on the 12th of November Croydon found itself alive, bustling with members of every branch of the cadet force: RAF cadets, combined, police, sea and many, many more, all with their poppy proudly flourishing on their chest. Amongst the sea of red, I was a drop in an ocean of marching cadets, shoulder-to-shoulder with not just each other, but even veterans, to whom the day would mean more than the rest of us could ever imagine. Amidst these people, sharing a uniform with such a depth of history, I felt as though I scratched the surface of what men and women serving across the globe - and all those that served before them - must feel. The sacrifice they are willing to make. Immediately, my gratitude to these brave individuals more than doubled in what was a humbling moment of reflection.


But it was not just me that felt this way - marching through the street, an air of solemness settled also, across those not in uniform. It was a sight to behold even the rowdiest of toddlers subdued by the atmosphere of the event, looking on with their parents, and just grasping the sense of importance the day held in their young minds. A harsh call from my captain in front of me drew me out of these thoughts, to halt us before the Croydon Church. The final destination of the parade. Assembled were the local prominent figures of every group, culture, religion and institution - a powerful reminder that the breadth of conflict extends beyond just ourselves.


Knowing that parades just like these were taking place across the nation, it acted as more than just remembrance  - it was a moment of unity in a disjointed world. Especially as we hear news of ever-growing conflict, before we cast away our thoughts of gratitude for a cheery mask of holiday gaiety, try to take the message of remembrance with you; remember not just the sacrifice, but the unity and peace it sought to achieve. All of us can, and should, strive for such an imperative aim, be that as soldiers or in our way of life.