“For many of us, Remembrance is very different this year. Social distancing and lockdown restrictions have meant that the services we’d normally attend are not happening in the same way. Maybe they’re continuing with limited numbers, going ahead online instead, or perhaps not happening at all.
“For many, this might feel like a lost opportunity to show support for our Armed Forces Community, to come together in shared Remembrance, and to swap stories with others. It’s a small world when it comes to the Armed Forces Community, and I’m sure many of you will have had similar experiences to me – you soon get chatting with someone at a service or parade, and discover they know someone who trained at the same place as one of your relatives, or who was in the same regiment. It doesn’t take long until you’re attempting to triangulate both parties’ years in a particular place, in order to determine if they may have crossed paths!
“As an Army child, born abroad because of where my parents were based, it’s also not uncommon for me to come across others born in the same place, for the same reason. It really is a huge community. Before coming to the University, I had worked for The Royal British Legion – an organisation whose very purpose is to support the Armed Forces Community, so I’ve had the privilege of being involved in lots of Remembrance events and activities.
“There’s something special about the sense of community felt at a Remembrance service, being part of a crowd made up of individuals gathered for the same thoughtful purpose. To come together in shared remembrance, respect and reflection, and in hope for a peaceful future – thinking of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, but also of everyone else who’s been affected by war.
“For a lot of military personnel, veterans and their families, being involved in these events brings with it a sense of pride and camaraderie. Remembrance events provide an important opportunity for us to show public thanks for the sacrifices made in the past, and to show our current serving personnel that we are grateful for the sacrifices they continue to make today.
“This year it may feel strange not to mark Remembrance Sunday and November 11 in the way we’re used to. We probably haven’t seen as many poppies, as we’re not going out as much as we usually would. We may not get the chance to attend a service and hear the words of The Exhortation read out, or The Last Post played on the bugle. However, whilst things will look more normal again in the future, there are still plenty of ways for us to take part in Remembrance this year. For those of us who marked 11am on Sunday, I’m sure we will have all done it in our own, slightly different, ways.
“Tomorrow I’ll be marking 11am by attending the University’s Annual Service of Remembrance, organised by our Chaplaincy team. This year it will be broadcast on the University YouTube Channel, providing us with an opportunity to come together in shared Remembrance from the safety and comfort of our own homes. If you’d like to join me in watching the service, along with many others from across our University community, you can tune in at 10.55am by visiting The University’s YouTube page here. If you’re unable to watch the service at this time, it will also be available to watch back later.”
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
If you’re alumni and part of the Armed Forces Community, whether that be as a serving member, a veteran or a family member, or if you’re connected through work or otherwise, please do let us know. Our Alumni Armed Forces Network continues to grow and we would be delighted for you to be a part of it. You can let us know about your connection by emailing AlumniAFC@chester.ac.uk.