On the 12th of November, the people of Reigate walked down to Shaws’ Corner to attend Remembrance Sunday. It was touching to see how many attended- from families on the pavement, to contingents of cadets. Many veterans of the armed forces came to pay their respects, and indeed were the ones that led the event. There was also the band that played the poignant ‘Last Post’, and of course the two-minute silence to remember those lost in the service of our country. Finally, the veterans placed a wreath of poppies at the war memorial.


Perhaps the most poignant words of the day were the ubiquitous phrase ‘We will remember them’. We certainly will remember their names, and their sacrifice. But will we remember their faces, or what their personality was? Will we remember what really defined them? Perhaps not. We remember them, but we don’t know what it was like for those fighting in the trenches and the mud of WW1. By now, the last veterans have died of old age. So, it seems we will remember those lost fighting, but we will never truly know what it was like for the soldiers lost in WW1. 


The true meaning, perhaps, of Remembrance, is to remember their sacrifices; to honour the peace that they fought and gave their lives for.  What World War One should have taught us was that we needed to avoid repeating the horrors of war, but did we? 


The 20th-century philosopher Santayana wrote "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.  As those horrors pass out of living memory, they are being repeated in Ukraine and Gaza.


It seems WW1 was not ‘the war to end all wars’. Neither was WW2. Santayana also wrote “only the dead have seen an end to war”. Hopefully we can find another solution other than the total annihilation of the human race.